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Up tick in computer scams

Article for: Everyone
Difficulty: Easy
Importance: Very

Scam AlertIn the last month, 3 people have called me with disastrous computer problems. All three were elderly. A person called them claiming to be an Amazon representative who would help them with their account. Each client gave those strangers remote access to their computer. They may go in directly, or give you a number to get to a support representative who can help you. The number is fake. The representative is a fake.

Once you let a crook into your computer, you face colossal problems. You magnify these problems if you re-use the same password in multiple places. After getting into your computer, they can return anytime they like when you aren't around and go through your email, any browser passwords you are saving and whatever else might be available to the miscreant with complete access to your computer.

Here are absolute rules to follow to avoid these scams.
  1. Never click on any link to buy anything that comes in an unsolicited email. If you get an email for something you want to buy, go to Amazon or Walmart or BestBuy and search for it. Do not buy from any unsolicited email.
  2. Shut down the phone call as quickly as possible. The longer they can keep you on the phone, the more vulnerable they think you are, and the more likely someone else will call again with another scam.
  3. Never deal with any Amazon or Microsoft, or bank representative who calls you offering to help you. If they are returning your phone call great. Otherwise, go to their website, login to your account and get the proper email or phone number from there.
  4. Never click on any link from your bank or a store that came unsolicited to you. Use your password safe and browser to log into your account or call with a phone number you have that you know is correct.
  5. Have a separate password for every account, so if they compromise one, then other accounts will remain safe.
If you are old, freeze your credit reports. Young people may need to set up new borrowing and might need to keep their credit reports open, but older people seldom need credit checks. If we buy a new home or car all we need to do is ask the vendor what credit bureau they use, and unfreeze that bureau for a week. Freezing and unfreezing is free.

Here's an FAQ from the FTC on Credit freezes. I recommend freezing 5 credit bureaus. I wrote an article on it in August 2018 which links back to previous articles. Those articles appeared before congress made the freezes free, so ignore my pricing information.

Further information:

A good 4 minute news show.

Date: September 2020

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