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2017-06-21 / Loose Ends

Hack attack

When ‘help’ is a scam
Susan Nienow

I wasn’t doing anything unusual – just trying to check my email – when my computer screen went totally black, and the speaker was shouting instructions to not turn off my computer, or I would damage the hardware. Actually there were two voices saying the same thing. They also had a phone number to call for technical assistance. You can’t imagine the stress created by a shouting computer threatening dire consequences.

So, I called that number. I knew deep down this was a scam, but when someone answered, and it sounded like they were standing in the middle of a conference during the break, I knew for sure. Real tech support is quiet – silent actually, except for the tech.

I hung up after telling the man I didn’t think he was legitimate, and he said that if that was the way I felt, I should take the computer into the shop where I bought it. I agreed. I did not give him any information about my credit card or me.

First my other half and I tried the “help line.” Truthfully, it was my other half who spent two hours with a tech fixing the problem. I stayed out of the way. They hung up happy, but apparently those little “adwares” regrouped during the night and attacked again in the morning.

Thank goodness for my other half. He saves things like the box the computer came in. So he just packed it up, and we headed off to the “store.”

These places are designed for the young. It was crowded and noisy with lots of color and movement, but we got an appointment with a tech in less than an hour.

The young man – from our vantage point, very young – knew everything about my problem, or at least everything I needed him to know. The going rate for these adware scammers is $300 to “fix” a computer, gaining entrance into the computer and a $300 payment with a credit card number.

It seems I clicked on some adware for more information about cleaning up my machine when, in fact, that was as good as downloading an app. They were in. I had noticed some funny things on my computer the past few weeks, like my server kept cutting out. At least I thought that was what was happening. It turns out they – the scammers – put a false screen in front of the real one.

You know by now that I am very familiar with word processing and emails and that’s it. Computers and I don’t speak the same language. They are like cars to me. I want them to turn on and do what they are supposed to do. When they don’t, I want help, now .

The tech genius fixed my problem, installed an up-to-date operating system and smiled the whole time. The final gift was when he said “No charge.” I left exhausted from the stress but grateful and ready for a coffee. Wait, it was after 5:00 – a glass of wine.

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