Scammers and Hackers! Oh, my!

Have you ever been scammed or hacked? If not, you probably know someone who has been. If it were not so common an occurrence, I’d be embarrassed to admit it happened to me. And it is devastating.

Here’s a likely scenario:

1. Someone phones you and says your computer is compromised or in danger from foreign hackers. You can’t tell if the person calling is a scammer and hacker simply by their foreign accent or the background noise. Honest establishments do outsource, which means you may be talking to someone from India or somewhere else who is legitimate.

2. It also doesn’t help if the one who calls knows your name. Information about you is readily available on the internet. Nor does it help if they can tell you they work for a real tech service.

3. The scammer then asks you to turn on your computer and asks to take control of your computer so they may remove the problem.

4. Here’s where it gets ugly. They may tell you your computer has indeed been hacked, despite your having a security system. It isn’t good enough, they say. They’ll sell you one that the government and giant corporations use, they say. They may want you to use your checking account to pay for it. That means they get the information to your checking account, and any money they take will not be reimbursed to you by the bank. If they used a credit card, you’d have a greater chance to recover your money. Bye, bye money. In addition, they can completely remove whatever security you have and hook into your computer accounts. Sort of like an infestation of hookworms in the gut.

5. Naturally you’ll have to close your accounts and open new ones. You’ll have to let direct deposit and direct debit businesses know your account has changed. The bank will help where possible, which may not get your money back. The police can’t find these criminals because they move around, but the law enforcement will give you a form to fill out. And for the record, you can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov}.

What can you do to prevent becoming a victim?

1.Make sure you have a computer ID security key (password) that only you and your computer help tech company knows.

2. If you get a call from someone who warns you your computer is being threatened and they want to fix it for you, ask them this: “What is my computer ID security key?”

3. If they can’t tell you what your ID security key is to your computer, hang up.

Good luck to all you honest folks, and may you remain secure!

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