Don’t fall for the “1-800” scam!

A very “popular” scam on the Internet is known colloquially as the “1-800” scam. It works something like this…

You’re browsing the Internet, and everything is going fine, when all of a sudden a quacking siren and a voice tell you “Your computer has been hacked! Don’t turn it off or you will lose all of your important data!” Or, you may see something that looks like a Microsoft “blue screen” error, with the text telling you to call a 1-800 number to let a “Microsoft technician” fix the issue. Don’t fall for it–it’s a scam!

Should you call those 800 numbers, you’ll be connected–not to Microsoft–but to a con man! They will sound convincing. They will be urgent that you MUST let them log into your computer remotely, and then they’ll “fix it” for you. They will show you all kinds of “errors” or “IP addresses from all over the world of people who are spying on you.” These tactics are very misleading. They will try to get you to give them a credit card number, and offer you a yearly maintenance plan–usually costing several hundred dollars.

Should you get one of these blue screens or other screens requesting you call an 800 number, don’t do it! At that point, you haven’t opened yourself up to trouble. Restart your web browser, or restart your computer. ONLY AFTER you’ve called the number and let the scammer take remote control of your computer are you in danger. Once they’ve logged in, they have access to everything on your computer. At that point, you are best served contacting your computer pro and asking them to do a clean up. If you go deeper, and give the scammer your credit card or bank account info, then you need to take bigger steps, and cancel the card and/or alert the bank. It’s better to not get in too deep to begin with. Don’t fall for the scam. Don’t call. Just reboot and start again.

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