Your phone rings, an automated voice states that the IRS has sought a lawsuit against you and the recording urges you to call a phone number to get the matter resolved. Perhaps your phone rings and a live person explains that they are calling from Microsoft and that suspicious behavior was detected on your computer and they need to take control of your device immediately to prevent further damage. STOP! None of these claims are true and a large number of people especially the elderly are being taken advantage of by falling victim to their claims and many people have even paid the “IRS” or “Microsoft” to protect themselves.
Let me ask you this, does a plumber call you when your pipes leak? Does the Fire department call you when your house is on fire? These scams have become increasingly popular and they are working harder and getting smarter about how they try to trick you into handing over your hard-earned money.
The scammers have gone so far as to make it appear that legitimate companies are calling you. For example, a few weeks ago we received a call with the caller ID stating it was Dell calling us, the number that called us was actually DELL’s phone number but it was not Dell that was calling. The scammers were spoofing their phone number to make it appear that they were Dell in an effort to gain your trust and steal your information or money.
What to do if you are a victim of a phone scam
If you or someone you know has fallen victim to these scams you should document any information related to the incident and forward the information to your local police department. If you allowed someone to take control of your computer they could leave malicious software behind that can log your keystrokes and steal your sensitive account information. You should turn your computer off immediately and seek professional assistance in cleaning up your computer. (Jester’s Computers in Fairfield provides clean-up services and they are fast, reliable and affordable).
If you provided the scammer with account information or sent them money, contact your financial institution right away and have the charges reversed. You should also cancel any accounts that you have provided information for to avoid any unexpected future charges. Many times, the scammers claim that you need to have your computer cleaned and will charge you upwards of $250 for a service that is much less expensive locally ($99 at Jester’s Computers).
Many users have reported phishing scams in their email which are very similar to the phone scams. Users receive an email that appears to be from their bank or a popular website such as Ebay, PayPal, FedEx, UPS or Amazon. Phishing scams are emails that are received that appear to be from a legitimate source but are not. Most of the time the emails will state that there is a problem and that they need you to logon to their website to resolve the issue. Upon clicking on the links in the email you may be taken to a website which appears to be the legitimate website but many times they are fake and steal your account information.
If you receive any emails claiming that your entitled to money or instructing you to open an attachment with a password the email could contain a virus. Don’t open any attachments from anyone you don’t know. You should even be wary of friends or family members that send you attachments you are not expecting since their accounts could be compromised. It’s best to send a quick email to them or give them a call to verify that they sent it.
How to protect yourself from e-mail scams
If you receive an email that states your account has a problem don’t click on any links inside the email. Instead you can visit the website directly by typing the web address in the address bar at the top of your web browser. For example, if you receive an email stating that your Paypal account needs verified you should type in the address bar www.paypal.com any information that Paypal sent to you regarding your account should also be available on their website.
If it’s too late and you realize you are the victim of a phishing scam you should immediately change your password for that account. If you have any other accounts that use the same password and username (or email address) you should change those as well. Mark the phishing emails you received as spam to help report the email address.
Anytime you receive an email that comes from a big company you should be able to identify if the email is real or not by looking at the actual email address. Scammers will register similar domain names to appear as though they are from a legitimate source. For example, an email from FedEx should be coming from @fedex.com not @fedx.com. When you click on any email links you can also verify that the web address takes you to the correct website in this example you should land on www.fedex.com not www.fedx.com.
If you find yourself to have fallen victim to a phone or phishing scam contact Jester’s Computers at (717) 642-6611 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to seek help. Jesters computers is located at 5135 Fairfield Road in Fairfield PA and is a family owned and operated business that has been established for over 20 years.