Being a retired police officer, I beg you to never pay cybercriminals. Three times in the past 2 weeks, I have had someone tell me “I had a screen pop-up saying my computer was infected with a virus, and I needed to call a 1-800 number.” And all 3 of them called the number. Two of the three then provided remote access to their computer. 1 of them gave his credit card information to pay a stranger who he never met to do “work” on his computer that he didn’t understand. Each time, my facial twitch betrayed my disappointment. (I should really work on that!) They responded defensively, “Well, I’m not good with computers!”
Please, please, please don’t do this. First, you have no idea who is on the other end of the line when you call. In most cases, it is not a company with your best interests in mind. By giving them access to your computer, they can download other viruses and malware, steal your data, shut down your network, change your passwords, and all sorts of other nefarious behavior.
Second, this type of scam is one of many that helps fund the cyber-criminals and enemies of our nation. At the risk of repeating myself to people who have read previous blogs and articles that I have authored, cybercrime is occurring at rates never before witnessed. It is the perfect crime because it’s most often committed by people outside of the US in places that the FBI can’t reach. These are not crimes being committed by a couple of teenagers in mom’s basement “for kicks.” As a retired cop, I never want to put money in the hands of criminals.
Reputable IT companies and computer repairmen, however, do NOT do business like this. Take a moment to search for a local managed services provider, IT provider, or computer repair company.
What does a reputable company look like?
First, check out the website for their company. Is it aesthetically pleasing? Does it clearly identify what services the company offers? Is the material presented in a clear, concise manner that you can understand? Finally, does the website identify the company as being licensed and insured?
Then, call your local Chamber of Commerce. They will be happy to point you in the direction of one of their members that is a good quality company.
Finally, always follow your gut instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t! End the call and move on. There are plenty of companies doing IT out there and not all of them are shady.