September 2018 Article
As I wrote this article, 3 clients called to say that they have fallen prey to a refund scam. They got an email or a phone call that promised a refund, and that they should call to claim their refund. Today, as I finalized this article I got a call from a client saying that every day for 2 weeks, she has received multiple calls saying that she was owed a refund.
Here is an example of the phone script used by scammers:
Please do not hang up. You have paid for your computer technical support a few months ago. We are calling to refund your money as the company has been ordered to close. Please call our toll-free number 888-653-…… to get your refund. Repeating again (the phone number repeated)
You may be wondering how I know this script. I get these calls as well. Typically, they are robo-calls with a recorded message, not a live person. This is suspicious activity and is a huge red flag. Several clients have called the number and been scammed out of as much as $2,100.
One client refused to provide his credit card number and hung up. Unfortunately, he hung up after allowing remote access to his computer. The scammer changed the login password and rebooted the computer. My client was locked out of the computer. I was able to get this resolved, but the time lost and cost for my services could have been avoided by simply refusing to allow remote access.
If you get a call on your phone suggesting that you are owed a refund, it is pretty hard to not get excited. The “found money” could come in handy, and everyone wants what is rightfully theirs. That’s the hook in these scams.
While there are many variations of this scam, they all involve the scammer demanding to have remote access to their computer. This is ALWAYS a bad idea!
There are several targets in mind when these scams are created. They are after your credit card info. Then they go after your saved passwords on your computer. And they are adding to the ever-growing list of people that have been successfully scammed. These lists of scam victims are traded like commodities.
If you have fallen victim to any scam where remote access was granted, it is important that you quickly change passwords. Especially those which are for financial, shopping, and email websites. It is trivial for a scammer to acquire all of your saved passwords while remotely accessing your computer.
The simplest way to avoid trouble is to never provide an unsolicited caller with remote access to your computer.