On a single day this week we've had multiple clients successfully scammed via the standard phone scammers. People are getting phone calls from scammers claiming to be from legitimate companies such as Microsoft, who say that their computer has already been targeted or infected, and who offer to solve this problem. Another client clicked on a link on FaceBook and a pop-up appeared on the screen saying that infection had already occurred - in this case she called the number in the pop-up. Someone was offered a lifetime of anti-virus software for $1000. Another was told she could have it for just $4.50, but that her debit card declined so they would need her credit card details. The scammers created a sense of urgency; they were demanding and insistent.
It's so frustrating to me that members of our community are still being targeted by this behaviour. I wish that I could get this message out to everyone, especially older people - real companies will not contact you like this. They will not cold call you and bully you over the phone. Please hang up on them right away. If you're worried about your computer you can call us. If someone claims there is an immediate problem and you're worried, just turn off your computer and contact us, or someone else you trust. Don't give your credit card details to people over the phone. These conversations can be intimidating and confusing - this is deliberate. You have the right to understand any service you're paying for. If the person trying to sell it to you is not willing to explain what it is and why you need it in a civil and comprehensive manner; if they're bulling or harassing you, if they keep calling back when you hang up, it's not legitimate and you don't have to put up with it.
I would encourage anyone who has a friend or family member who they think could be vulnerable to this type of scenario to have a talk to them about it. If someone you know says things like 'I don't really know what I'm doing with computers' or 'I'm not really very confident with computers' - these are the people that scammers are looking for. And they know exactly what to do when they find them. I have regular chats with my kids about online predators, social media bullying, and subversive influencers and I see this as a similar situation. It really seems to me now that people, especially older people, are more likely to be robbed via their computer than via their front door; I hope that everyone will start proactively having these conversations.