Several times a week we have customers call to tell us that they “think they messed up”. Then they go on to explain that they were contacted by Apple or Microsoft Support and that they were told that they had viruses or issues on their computer, only to find out that it was all a scam, and by the time you give them your credit card number, it’s too late.
I am writing this article today to protect all of my UberMac customers & clients from these scams. And I’d like to recommend that you please make sure to pass this on to your parents as well, because people over 50 (and especially the elderly), are the main targets these days.
Below is a list of the things that you should watch out for, and when “red flags” should be raised.
Phone Call Scams:
1. Never. Ever. Will Microsoft Support or Apple Support EVER call youto tell you that they see that you have an issue, or an error, or a virus, or anything else for that matter. If you ever question this for a single second, ask for their name and number, hang up, and call us at UberMac. We’ll tell you if it was a scam or not.
2. If the caller has an accent, (not trying to be stereotypical here, but the caller usually has an Indian, or overseas accent), or if you hear a lot of people talking in the background or if the background is busy or loud, chances are it is a scammer calling from a crammed, close quarters call center overseas. Professional call centers like the ones that Apple & Microsoft have, use professional spaces that have a quiet background.
3. If the caller asks for a credit card number, do not give it to them. Period.
4. If the caller asks for you to pay them with iTunes Gift Cards or Western Union, you should have BIG RED FLAGS popping up. This is a telltale sign of a scammer. Think about it. Why would anyone not want to be paid with a credit card? Well, the answer is because the charges can be reversed once you have figured out it was a scam. If you pay with iTunes Gift cards, a money order or a wire transfer, once they are cashed, the money is gone forever.
5. NEVER give anyone your social security number, especially if they have called you first. You may be OK to give it to someone over the phone if you called them, but only if you called them from a number on a paper bill. You should even be leery to give it out even if you called a number from a website that you Googled, because it could be a scam site. Be careful and verify that the company that you are calling for assistance is in fact, the real company.
Website Scams / Adobe Flash Player Scams / Pop Up Window Scams:
1. The scam that we see the most on the internet, is when a computer user is alerted that their Adobe Flash Player is out of date and needs to be updated. 9 times out of 10, this is just a pop-up that will ask you to click a link to get the update. The problem is, that update is not an update. It’s a link to a file that will download to your Apple computer and look legitimate. And when you click to install it, it actually just installs malware (malicious Software) onto your Mac. Soon after you install it, you start to notice that software like MacKeeper or Mac Cleaner is suddenly trying to warn you that you have errors or viruses. Most people’s brains don’t ask “How did this software get on my computer” at that point. Instead, they worry and focus on how to get rid of these bad errors and viruses. But to do this, you have to pay $40 or $50 to get the software. And that is the scam. And even after you buy the software / malware, it continues to say that there are errors, tricks you into downloading more bad software, and also slows your computer to a halt. In addition to this, when you entered your credit card info to buy the software, you not only gave the bad guys your credit card, but you also entered your phone number in, and soon you will now start to get the Apple Support scam calls like I talked about above. Yeah, they have your phone number now.
If this happens, or if you get a warning that you need to update, call us at 561-623-0533, or take a screen shot and text it to 561-320-4564, and we’ll tell you if it’s legitimate or not. Unfortunately, these types of scams to upgrade your software look very authentic, and only a trained professional can tell if it is a scam or not. So call us, that’s why we are here.
2. Sometimes you will go to search Google for help. But you need to be VERY careful here. For instance, if you were having trouble with your Yahoo Mail password and needed help, you might go to Google and search for “Yahoo password help” or “Aol Help & Support” or “Lost my password”. Many websites cloak themselves to LOOK like the real website, but you need to look carefully at the website URL, because if you click on the wrong link and call that company and give them your username and password, you just opened your whole world up to being compromised. Call us at 561-623-0533 if you are ever unsure or need help.
Email or Text message Scams & Phishing Attempts:
Scammers try to copy email and text messages from legitimate companies to trick you into entering personal information and passwords. Never follow links or open attachments in suspicious or unsolicited messages. If you need to change or update personal information, contact the company directly.
These signs can help you identify phishing scams:
- The sender’s email address or phone number doesn’t match the name of the company that it claims to be from.
- There are mis spellings, or broken english in the text, subject or body.
- Your email address or phone number is different from the one that you gave that company.
- The message starts with a generic greeting, like “Dear customer.” Most legitimate companies will include your name in their messages to you.
- A link appears to be legitimate but takes you to a website whose URL doesn’t match the address of the company’s website.*
- The message looks significantly different from other messages that you’ve received from the company.
- The message requests personal information, like a credit card number or account password.
- The message is unsolicited and contains an attachment.