Sophisticated Online Scammers Cause Big Problems for Small Business Owners
The owner of Magnetic Business Solutions, Mary Lou Gutscher, recently published a blog that I thought was important to share.
Sophisticated Scammers Cause Big Problems for Small Business Owners
Scammers have nothing to do all day but to figure our more and more sophisticated ways of duping others out of money, leaving utter chaos in their wake.
I consider myself pretty sharp when it comes to avoiding scams. But this time, I was fooled enough to actually allow someone access to my computer. Clever scammer.
Here’s the story and three important lessons I learned from this experience.
THE SCAM CALL
The caller identified himself as a Microsoft Windows specialist. He said my computer had been sending error messages indicating that it was in imminent danger of crashing. I had been having challenges with Microsoft software so this sounded like I might finally get some answers. Nevertheless, I asked how I could be sure that he was who he said he was.
Before asking for access, he walked me through two spots on my computer to “prove” that there were a ton of error messages and that the problem was apparently that my registration had either expired or had never been activated.
Every computer has a similar list of benign errors that have already been nullified. And every computer has one place where that registration message can be found. Neither issue causes any problems.
He asked to connect to my computer, which I allowed. Luckily, the first thing he did was offer me three options for a service package, starting at $199. Since I’d already paid for a service package, that is when I became suspicious. I put him on hold, called my IT guy and connected the three of us in the call.
My hero got rid of the “Windows” specialist by asking this one simple question:
What is the number where I can call you back and what is your ID number there?
Then we hung up quickly, shut down my computer immediately, and over the next 12 hours ran software to eradicate the damage already done in those few minutes of (ahem) ignorance on my part.
THREE KEY THINGS I LEARNED THAT DAY
Microsoft never initiates a service call. If a service session is interrupted or there is a waiting list, it is up to the customer to call back, OR the service rep may offer to call you back at a specific time.
DO NOT, under any circumstances, allow any stranger access to your computer. Call your IT person first. No one can get into your computer without you providing them with a password or clicking to allow access. So just don’t give them permission. Ask for a phone number and rep ID, then hang up and call back if you are interested in what they are offering.
I am grateful for the three way calling feature on my phone. I use it frequently.
If you don’t have a security system, if your security system is not monitored, or if you are unhappy with your current security provider, call me for a free, no-obligation consultation. You’ll be glad you did!
Ulli Robson, Security Specialist, 780-288-2986