If It Happened To Me, It Could Happen To You
I pride myself on being pretty intelligent; and I think I’ve got fairly good common sense as well. As part of my education company, I teach adolescents and young adults life skills in an authentic environment. In part of that curriculum, we work on internet safety. That’s why I cannot believe I was duped yesterday afternoon.
Knowing that in less than one month I would be traveling up to St. Augustine for a refresher training course in one of the therapeutic interventions I currently offer to families, I decided to book my hotel reservation online. Doing my homework, I decided to mapquest how far the hotel is from the training site. That’s when it happened.
My computer froze, and I got a “Windows Security Warning” that looked official. It had the logo. It had an error code. It even had “Microsoft’s” toll free number. Clueless, I was a sitting duck and I was someone’s prey. I called the number that was frozen on my screen.
Now I should probably mention, I have an “IT” professional who solves my computer problems. But I was in a hurry and the “easy” thing to do seemed to be to just call the free customer service number. When the “customer service representative” answered, I told him about the error on my screen. He asked me to read the information on my screen. Sounded legit to me. He then had me hit Ctrl r…I allowed him access to my computer.
And I teach internet safety! I’m embarrassed to admit that I fell prey to this scam. But if it happened to me, it could happen to you.
After about 3 minutes on the phone, I decided to call my “IT” person to ask her about my anti-virus. As soon as I told her what had happened, she exclaimed frantically, “Hang up! They are fraud! You just gave them access to your computer!” Luckily, she was able to get the virus off of my computer. Would you believe the person called me back, several times mind you, even the following day?
I’m not the first to get scammed like this. I’m not going to be the last. Hopefully in sharing this embarrassing story, others will not fall for this scheme. I know never to give out my social security number. I know never to give out my banking information. I know never to give out my passwords. I know to never pull my car over for an unmarked police car. But I still gave a complete stranger access to my computer. All because I saw a logo and message that looked official.