Tag Archives: scammers

Tax Time 2015

scrabble taxI’m recycling a past blog as the timing is right for it.

Remember there are a lot of telephone scams that sound legit. Be safe everyone.

Click this link to read all about it.

Scammers Posing as the IRS

Have a fantastic rest of the week, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways.

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Giving Out Credit Card Numbers

Happy Holidays! It’s the season of giving, peace on earth, Untitled-1and goodwill to man.

Unfortunately, wrapped up with all the holiday cheer is an upsurgence in unscrupulous people.

After all the looting recently in St. Louis, I wondered how many kids got stolen merchandise as gifts. And how many knew it was stolen?  Envision the exchange at a looter holiday. “Here, Johnny, I got you this sparkling new bike.” “Wow, you’re the  best uncle in the world!” Yeah, right.

Hey, Looters! Ever think of setting a good example, you thugs? You’re not protesters; you’re criminals who steal and destroy your neighbors’ hard work by looting and burning their stores.

dog snow tongueThen there are those who steal delivered packages off the front porches of others. Last week a few got their comeuppance. A couple in Washington, D.C. — tired of having their packages stolen from their front porch — rewrapped a special gift for the porch package pilferers. They videotaped the gift exchange so they could enjoy it for years to come, and share it with local law enforcement. The box they left was filled with dog poo. Ah, pooetic justice at its best.


Now for the real point of today’s blog: telephone scammers who ask for your personal information and credit card number.

Recently a friend received two calls in as many weeks asking for his credit card number. Both of these calls could’ve been legit, but he’s very smart and didn’t give out any information. The first caller identified themselves as from his bank; the second said they were from his new cell phone service.

The “bank” caller asked him to verify his social security number. He didn’t. Then they asked for him to verify his address. He said, “Um, you’re my bank. Shouldn’t you already know my address?” Then they asked for a credit card number and that tore it. He had a few choice words for them at this point and hung up.

shopping cart iconThe cell phone caller went immediately for the throat. They said his calling limit had been reached, and if he wanted to continue he needed to give them a credit card number. He just bought the phone the week before so he knew that wasn’t the case.


By the way,  it’s legit in our age of technology to charge items to your cell phone account much like you do to your credit card account.

In fact, this past October, the FTC reached a $105 million settlement with AT&T for adding unauthorized charges — technically known as “cramming” — to their clients billings.

The FTC has some great tips on protecting yourself from cramming and what to watch for on your telephone bill. Click here.


Today’s Important Lesson Number One: Never ever give out a credit card number to someone who calls you. Only give it out if you initiate the call.

Today’s Important Lesson Number Two: Never call back a number given to you by a caller then give them your credit card number. Scammers  can intercept calls and/or set up phone numbers to look like legit businesses.


Now you’re armed a bit better for scam callers. Don’t feel bad if the calls are actually from a company you do business with. You just did them a favor by advising them their policies need to be brought into the 21st Century.

Have a very blessed holiday season, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


RELATED POSTS: Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!Scammers Posing as the IRS.


 

DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.

 

Scammers Posing as IRS

This quick post was necessitated by scam callers…again.phone handset

I wanted to make you, my faithful readers, aware of an ongoing telephone scam. This time the call was from people posing as the IRS.

Yesterday, a lovely recorded woman told me if I didn’t pay the money I owed, the IRS would come to my house, seize my property and sell off my assets to pay the bill. There were a few more sentences filled with aggressive and angry actions to be taken against me if I failed to comply immediately. Yada, yada, yada.

Then, being the super nice and helpful entity she was, she gave me a toll-free number — four or five times — to call to straighten this out. Because we all know, none of us wants to have our assets seized.


man coins falling outHOW SCAMMERS FAKE YOU OUT

From an article (IRS Reiterates Warning of Pervasive Telephone Scam) at www.irs.gov:

“Other characteristics of this scam include:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.”

WHAT THE IRS SAYS TO DO

Tax docFrom the same IRS article:

“If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.”

If you wish to report these types of scams, you can at www.irs.gov by typing “scam” in the search box.


I hope you feel empowered now to deal with those annoying, and just plain mean, scammer phone calls.

Holiday Blessings, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


RELATED POSTS: Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!; How To Spot A Hoax Email


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.

Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!

I received a message last week from a female robotic voice saying, “Your computer is generating some serious errors, please press 1 to talk to Microsoft service. Please press 1… ” While I was deciding how to track the number and find the thief, the recording stopped and the call disconnected. Hm. Maybe scammers can read my mind now.words only scary microsoft

I’ve had this happen before, but this was the first time I’ve actually had an outerspace robot on the other end. Live people have called me a few times. All of them with foreign accents.


Our conversations went something like this:

“This is Microsoft. Your computer is sending us error messages. Would you give me the _______ [I forget what computer info he wanted]?”

“Which computer?” I asked.

“Your main computer”, he replied.

“Which one? I have a few.”

Click. Dead air.


The conversation for another call was similar to the above except I was in teacher/preacher/mother mode.

“”This is Microsoft. Your computer is sending us error messages.”

“The company you’re working for is scamming people.”

I think he denied this. I added, “I’m sure you’re a very smart man. You should find a legitimate company to work for. Have a nice evening.”


Smiley phoneMy cousin tells the caller to hold on while she looks for the information they’re requesting. Then she sets down the phone and continues whatever she was doing when they called. Twenty minutes later she checks the line  and — you guessed it — they’ve usually hung up.


There’s a comedian who will engage the caller or telemarketer in normal conversation — How are ya’? How’s the weather there?, etc — then he’ll ask, “Oh, can you hold on a second?” Then he has a one-sided conversation in the background while the caller listens. It goes something like this:

“Hi, how was the doctor’s visit? Hey, what’s the gun for?”

Pause.

“No, No, NOOOOO!!!!!”

He drops a book or bangs something loudly.

“Oh My God!”

He picks up the phone again, and in a panicked voice he includes the caller in the crisis situation.

“Oh my God, oh my God. She shot herself. Call the police! No, Call an ambulance! No! Call a coroner!”

By this time the caller has hung up. Quite effective, don’t you think?


Now for the Serious Stuff

When scammers call you, they aren’t just trying to sell you phony services, it can be much worse.  Their goal is to do a number of things.

  • Download software that captures your passwords and information.
  • Install malicious trojans or viruses.
  • Take control of your computer remotely.computer handshake

What? You don’t think they can take control of your computer? They can. And when they do, they gain access to all your online banking/investment information, your personal data, and a ton more. Not cool.


How to Stop Them

1) The easiest way is don’t fall victim in the first place.

Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Windows, your internet service provider, or software  security companies (Norton or McAfee are the major ones) won’t call your home…ever.

They are too busy helping the people who call them — which they expect you to do — to go looking for business.

  • DO NOT ask for a phone number to call them back. They can have those rigged, too.
  • DO NOT go to any website they give you. Even to receive a $1000 refund from Microsoft. You know that’s not happening…ever, plus they probably have software on that website to capture your I.D.’s and passwords.

Remember, if it’s too easy or too good to be true, it is. Most of the time those greedy enough to pursue these kinds of offers end up wishing they hadn’t.

2) Disable Remote Desktop

Remote Desktop is a function of Windows that allows someone not near your computer (via the internet) to access your computer information and settings.

Scammers will try to walk you through enabling Remote Desktop. Just tell them it’s disabled on purpose, and you can’t reenable it without talking to your computer tech first. The scammer will probably hang up.


How to Disable Remote Desktop:

With Windows 7 or 8, a) open File Explorer (the file icon on your task bar), b) right-click on Computer in the left margin, c) click Properties  in the dropdown menu.


You can also get to the Systems window the long way. I wouldn’t.

In Windows 8, a) hover over the top or bottom right to open the Charms Bar — yep, it has a name — b) click Settings at the bottom of the bar, then c) Control Panel toward the top, d) scroll down to System.

In Windows 7, a) click the Start button on your task bar, b) select Control Panel in the right column, c) click Settings, then d) System.


In the System window, 1) open Remote Settings in the left margin.
Windows 8 remote settings

 

2) Uncheck the top box, and make certain the radio button is blackened in front of Don’t allow remote connections to this computer.
remote desktop disable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) click Apply, and 4) OK.

Congratulations. You’re done.

You may wish to read in the System Properties window What happens when I enable Remote Assistance? and Help me choose. Especially, if you’re considering applying this to an office computer. You can always re-enable Remote Assistance at any time if you actually need someone you know or you’ve called to access your computer, then disable it again later.


Have a safe and successful computing week, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀

Related blogs: Creating the Safest Passwords; and Spotting Hoax Emails;


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.