I was working on my home computer Monday when my screen turned bright red and froze: this horrible event was accompanied by a flashing message that said my computer had been compromised and that I needed to call the number on the screen; a Microsoft help team would then help save my computer. I called. A man named “Alex” assured that all would be well, that I just needed to follow a few steps with him. First I needed to give him control of my computer. That sounded weird, but then, what do I know, so I did. MISTAKE!!!!!!!!!!!! I know that everyone who is reading this is thinking to themselves “What a dummy!” Me, too.
I thought I was so smart, so savvy in the ways of computers, internet scams, etc. But this operation was smooth as silk! I had been taken before I even knew what had happened. He showed me passwords and account numbers and had me in tears. I was absolutely panicked. He wanted me to buy extra protection for my computer, which he laid out for me in a very systematic manner–for 15 years of protection I need only pay $900.00. for 10 years, I would pay the low, low price of $800.00, and so on. As I listened, my red flags finally began to pop up. “Call your expert!” which happens to be, lucky for me, my husband.
I told “Alex” that my husband needed to be in on this conversation before I made any decisions about extra internet protection, so he called him! I couldn’t believe that, actually. I told Mike to get home as quickly as possible. When he got here, he quickly deduced the situation, made me aware of my egregious error (no yelling involved, by the way–thank you, Mike), and confronted the thieves. They ended up hanging up on us!
I HOPE I HAVE LEARNED MY LESSON from this.
But here’s the thing: these guys just get more and more sophisticated. They are good, really good.
I am writing this not to expose my stupidity–which I am doing, I realize–but as a warning to others. Know thy enemy. Know their tricks. Study up on strategies. I am going to. They aren’t going to trap me again!
Stay safe out there in Cyber-space, my friends. The Upside-Down? Yes, I think so! (see Stranger Things to get this reference!)