Many of our clients have reported receiving fraudulent calls from their “Internet providers.” Unless they took action, their Internet connection was supposed to be severed immediately. Someone contacted us last week, and they must have overlooked the fact that we always answer the phone with “Hello, this is Your Computer Guy, you are speaking with… how may I assist you?”
The caller, who spoke with a thick accent, stated that there was an issue with our Internet connection and that he needed to assist us as quickly as possible. I pretended to be a fearful and fairly naïve computer user, ready to seek the much-needed help out of boredom.
They bombarded me with computer questions, which I responded as a regular rookie user would. “Which computer is it?” What about the hard drive? Is it the one with the Windows logo on it? Yes, it’s a little slow… could you please hang on as it turns on?” I took a break from the phone to cook up my lunch, and when I returned, the patient on the other end of the line was still there.
“What do you want me to do?” I am unsure… What is that icon, and how does it appear? Is it better to click on the left or right side of the screen? My keyboard is clogged… I was supposed to hit Yes, but I mistakenly clicked No. “Wait a minute, let me re-start this…”
They gave trying after 15 minutes, but their goal was for me to download a remote assistance tool so they could remotely connect to my computer – similar to how we help our customers.
I didn’t go any farther, but in my experience, they’ll show you a load of worthless warning and error messages (from Windows system logs) and claim that your computer is infected, and that they need to disconnect you from the Internet to “defend their systems.”
Of course, they could assist you in repairing it for a cost. The next step is to install phony antivirus software that will identify even more “issues” with your computer and will cost considerably more than a regular antivirus (several hundred dollars per year).
Several of our customers have been defrauded, and the typical loss is roughly $500 – plus our time to make sure their computer is clean and the criminals can’t do any more damage.
Scammers may attempt to log into your bank account and transfer money in some situations. In Auckland, I had a customer who lost $38,000. It was sent overseas, and the bank was unable to assist. Despite the fact that these sums are significant, the police will not intervene. When the money is gone, it’s gone for good.
How to Safeguard Yourself
If you get an unexpected call, don’t jump into action right away. Inquire about the caller’s name, the company they represent, and the best way to reach them so you can return their call. Scammers will be irritated if you ask them these questions. If they truly do, look up the company’s official phone numbers on Google and compare them to what the scammers told you.
Just because a caller knows something about you (such as your name, address, and date of birth), doesn’t indicate the call is genuine. Remember, you can get all of this information on the internet via social media, Google, and public records.