Americans are finding their lives more and more virtually wired to the Internet.
Our dependence on being connected to the web for everything from finding our destination to paying our bills to knowing what’s going on with friends to scheduling appointments is scary enough. But with all that information is packed into electronic devices, many that are no bigger than a deck of playing cards (another obsolete item, thanks to online poker and solitaire), our lives are, for all practical purposes, at the tips of our fingers every day.
That’s why an alert issued by the Better Business Bureau on Tuesday bears mentioning. The Columbus BBB Office, which serves Southwest Georgia, says an old scam has resurfaced in search of new prey.
According to the BBB, what’s happening is folks are getting calls at home from scammers claiming to be Microsoft Support employees. The caller claims that he or she is alerting the call recipient to a real-time problem — a home computer that is uploading a virus as they speak.
The caller wants the computer owner to provide him with information about the computer so that it can be remotely accessed and the problem gotten rid of. The computer also may be directed to visit a website — one is www.win32.us — to prove that the caller is legitimate.
Of course, nothing can be further from the truth,” the BBB said. “This is the return of an old scam. The scammers are trying to get you to provide them with access to your computer so that they can get hold of all your private information located on your hard drive (such as saved documents, scans, pictures, etc.) and possibly even logins and passwords to various sites that you might be storing there as well.”
If you get a call like this, the BBB suggests that you take these steps:
— Hang up immediately;
— Do not try to call the number back;
— Do not provide any information which will allow the caller remote access to your computer;
— Perform a simple internet search about the nature of the call (that often will bring a wealth of information and alert you to it being a scam);
— Contact your local BBB for assistance.
If you have allowed the caller remote access, however, BBB officials say you should immediately get in touch with your banking institutions, check your credit, change your passwords, and take any other steps you can to mitigate the fallout.
The Internet has helped us make many wonderful advances, but it also makes us all more susceptible to crimes such as identity theft. Electronic devices are great conveniences, but they also carry a great deal of liability, particularly for those who are not careful. The best policy is to always be suspicious with of you don’t know, and to act as if your livelihood is at stake. It very well may be.