Though endless scams and frauds originate from the Internet, you can protect yourself much better if you know what to look for. Thus here I discuss a few popular scams you should stop before falling victim:
Unsolicited phone calls: This scam can start off by you calling somewhere because a popup on the computer says to, or by a unsolicited phone call you get out of the blue. Most likely, the person on the phone will say you have some virus or other issue and they can take care of it. They might even lie and say they’re from Microsoft, Windows, or affiliated with them. They’ll have you download something or get you to remotely connect them so they can see and take control of your computer. Though they might not at first, at some point they’ll ask for money, and if you deny they might threaten to crash your computer.
If I had to guess, I’d say phone calls like these has the likelihood of being 99.9 percent false. If you do fall victim, the bank will usually refund your money due to it being fraudulent. I also certainly suggest having the computer examined by a professional to ensure there’s no viruses or malware left after the scam.
Ads, popups and alerts: Online criminals and scammers often use advertisements, pop-ups, and alerts to reel you into a scam. They might alert you of viruses or other issue and say their program will help you. Though you can usually download their program for free, it will usually require payment before it “removes” the issues it claims you have and stop bugging you.
Keep in mind, legitimate programs you have installed, such as your antivirus, may alert you of real issues that you need fix. However, if you aren’t sure they’re coming from a legitimate program I suggest seeking professional advice.
Cleaners and speed boosters: There are endless programs out there that claim to clean and speed up your computer and remove viruses, registry errors, and other types of issues. There are many that can indeed help, but they aren’t magic. Many of these won’t give you noticeable results in regardless to speed or performance, and if they do it usually requires more than just clicking a single button.
I suggest ignoring any advertisements or popups that try to get you to download or purchase a cleaner or speed boosting program. If you’re looking for a legitimate program, consider CCleaner (www.piriform.com/ccleaner) or Glary Utilities (www.glarysoft.com).
Remote tech support: Most tech support companies can remotely connect to customer computers via the Internet, take control and fix issues. This can be great way to get quick and easy tech support. However, I certainly suggest going with a local company. I’ve heard horror stories of remote support companies that some my customers have used in the past, especially when the company is overseas. I’ve heard of them taking remote control of their computer for days, messing up the computer even more, or hounding them to sign up for some expensive and unnecessary support plan.
You could be prompted to call or chat with a remote support company via an unsolicited advertisement, popup, or alert; those are usually not legitimate. Even if you find a remote support company through a trusted source, such as the phone book, I certainly suggest going with a local company using local techs.
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Eric Geier is the owner of On Spot Techs, which provides on-site computer repair and IT services at homes and businesses in the Dayton and Springfield areas. For more information, visit www.onspottechs.com or call 937-315-0286.