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Scams, Hacks and Theft

Tech Tips: Scams, Hacks and Theft

REP4 Tech Tips #7

Generally speaking, the people that we deal with from day to day are kindhearted and eager to make everyone else’s day just as pleasant as they would like their own to be.  Allowing a car to merge into your lane or opening a door for someone who has their arms full are typical ways we help each other out.  Unfortunately, there are people out there that are willing to bend and break the rules in order to get ahead financially while sacrificing their integrity.

With the speed at which technology changes, it is a challenge to keep up with new gadgets, software and features.  Accompanying this technology are the security threats like malware and viruses (keep an eye out for a future article covering this topic!), that almost anyone who uses a computer is well aware of.

When you mix people looking to profit, using any means necessary, and a technology that has a lot of mystery to a lot of people, it is the perfect combination to create a scam.

I’m sure you have seen the “Nigerian email” scam or the relative stuck in some far off country farce that urgently requires you to send money to get them back home.  There are also those scams that indicate you have inherited millions but need you to pay to release this fictitious money.  These types of email scams are now easily dis-proven by doing a simple search on the Internet.  Since these types of scams are becoming easily defeated, there is a new scam that has already affected local residents and as a result I would like to share it with you in the hopes of preventing it from happening to the Selkirk Enterprise readers.

The Scam

The scam plays out like this:

You get a phone call from a supposed representative from Microsoft or your Internet Service Provider (i.e. MTS, Shaw) claiming that your computer is “broadcasting” errors and affecting businesses or something similar. This phone call from the “Windows Support Group” asks you to go to a website so they can connect to your computer and show you the problem. They may even transfer you to a supervisor to get their help. The most common tool used in this scam appears to be AMMYY (www.ammyy.com). It is a technical support tool used to control a clients computer to assist them. This tool does appear to be legitimate, but what the caller does is NOT legitimate.  Once they seize control of your computer they proceed to show you “errors” that may or may not be real.

And now the ploy, they’d be happy to fix the problems/install the anti-virus software or whatever problem they claim that you have – for a fee.  Anywhere from $100 to over $300. Of course, the only way to pay them is by credit card. Once they are paid, the scam is complete.  They have now potentially installed malicious software on your computer and more alarmingly they now have your credit card information. In some instances, they may continue to call, claiming there are more issues to fix, charging you additional money.

Truth from Fiction

By the time this article prints there will probably be a dozen variations of this scam, so here are some basic guidelines:

  1. Ask for proof, if they really are from your Internet Service provider they should know your account number or offer to call them back, they will likely make up an excuse why you can’t.
  2. If they claim they are from Microsoft, they are lying. I could not find a single legitimate case where Microsoft called anyone to help them with their personal computer without being contacted first.
  3. Don’t give your credit card information over the phone to someone who calls you (or at all, if you can help it).
  4. For the price of “fixing” the problem, it would be cheaper or at least safer to call your local Computer Repair or Service company and have them fix it.  You can then be sure you are dealing with a legitimate business.

If you are concerned that you may actually have problems with your computer, here is a check list:

✔ Does your computer run really slow or freeze up?

✔ Do you receive strange “pop-ups” or random messages on your screen?

✔ Are your friends complaining that they are receiving strange emails from You?

✔ Does your computer have Anti-Virus installed?  If not, it is highly recommended!

Computers and software change all the time, leaving a large knowledge gap that can be exploited by “scammers” or con artists, always check your sources and refrain from giving out personal and financial information. If you are concerned about the health of your computer, most repair companies offer an optimization or maintenance service that will ensure your computer is running in top performance.

Eddie Phillips is the President of REP4 Technologies Inc. in Selkirk, Manitoba. Eddie is a 16 year IT veteran using his experiences from working for companies like Microsoft, Texas Instruments and HP to grow technological awareness throughout the Interlake.

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