Scammers are Back
Remember the phone creeps who claimed to be from “Windows” or “Microsoft” and wanted to get into your computer to “fix” the problems they had “detected” from their location? They are now sending e-mails with the same scare tactics.
There are a couple of easy rules that will help keep you safe.
1. NEVER respond to an e-mail claiming to be from Microsoft, your credit card company (call them using the phone number on the back of the card), your bank (call them using the phone number in the phone book), or anyone wanting to “fix” your computer. These kinds of companies NEVER ask you to respond to an e-mail that is referring to possible problems with your computer.
2. NEVER give your credit card number to ANYONE who calls you. You have no way of knowing who they really are.
3. NEVER use a debit card online. There is no ceiling to your liability like there is with a credit card. They get into your bank account, and they can clean you out.
4. If anyone calls you or e-mails you claiming that they have detected a virus/malware on your computer, HANG UP or DELETE the e-mail. They are all scams.
These guys are trading on people’s fear of hacking and viruses on their computers. Unfortunately it is working.
What can you do if you think you have been compromised?
1. Call the bank and have them flag your account if you used a bank card on an unsafe computer (any computer in a public place).
2. Login to your accounts (Amazon, credit cards, bill pay) from a known safe computer (a private computer in a safe location, not a laptop at Starbucks), and change your password.
3. Create passwords that aren’t real words, that have numbers and letters and both uppercase and lowercase letters. (example: pl58Yur&t) The more digits there are, the harder they are to hack. If your password is a real word, a hacker can steal it in 17 seconds using hack software. If you are using the same password for multiple sites, change any that access your finances (Amazon, bank, credit cards, stores) to unique passwords that aren’t used anywhere else.
4. If your computer is showing signs of being compromised like pop-up ads telling you that you have viruses, have someone look at it who knows what they are doing. Some of the current crop of viruses can hide within the operating system and come back.
5. Be sure you have backup media (on DVD’s or a flash drive) to reinstall Windows if you have a bad infection.