About Scams and Hoaxes
There are a number of scams and hoaxes that are going around right now, and they come from a number of sources – phone calls, emails, instant messages, and pop-ups are the most common. All of these use one or both of the following tactics: fear and ignorance.
It’s the IRS, and you owe tax money!
Scammers will start with a phone call, pretending to be with the IRS. The IRS will never call you, the IRS uses U S Mail to contact those who owe taxes. The caller also will ask for payment, and if you don’t pay they threaten to send the Sheriff (or other law enforcement) to pick you up for non-payment. This is not how the IRS operates, the Sheriff is not waiting for the IRS to call and then go fetch people who haven’t paid. Tell these evildoers to call your CPA, or simply hang up on them – DO NOT give them any personal information of any kind, and don’t verify any information either.
Microsoft says you’re infected!
You may receive a call from someone purporting themselves as a “Microsoft Certified Technician” or something to that effect. They continue and tell you that a virus exists on your computer and they can help, asking you to allow a remote connection so they can help you – DO NOT ALLOW THIS! If you allow this remote control they have the opportunity to install malware and spyware on your PC, and usually will try to get as much as $500 for “helping” you. They will show you “infections” that don’t exist and are very convincing, don’t be fooled!
These usually come from a bad search engine result or a typo when trying to visit a website. You go to a website or click a search engine result and then get a warning that you are infected with a virus, sometimes accompanied by an audio message, that takes over your PC. These will have a toll-free number to call to resolve the issue. DO NOT CALL THIS NUMBER! Calling gives them further validation that you are a real person and they get their hooks into you even deeper. Here are examples of what these may look like:
What Can I Do?
When receiving phone calls from any of these kinds of hoaxes or scams, there are a number of ways to handle them.
- Simply hang up. The callers don’t want the difficult ones, they look for low-hanging fruit that can be frightened into paying.
- Tell them you don’t have a computer. You can’t have a virus if you don’t have a computer, and they have no way of verifying this.
- Ask them for a return phone number so you can call them back. They won’t be able to give you a number to call since they are likely calling from a foreign country through spoofed (fake) phone numbers.
Another important thing to do is make sure your antivirus and/or anti-malware programs are up-to-date, valid and current. New viruses and threats come out daily, so your protection is only as good as the last time it was updated. Most virus protection programs do not protect against malware and other threats so consider adding a program called Malwarebytes to your protection regimen, it is a lot cheaper than having to reload the system.
Have Questions, or Need Help?
VGraphix has been providing tech, electronic recycling and other services for small business and home users for 24 years – we have the experience, knowledge and resources to best serve your needs. Problems don’t happen on a schedule, so our services are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Call (636) 734-1742 or visit our FB page for more information or to contact us when the need arises!