Your Parents are Targets of Ruthless Scammers. Here’s What You Need to Know to Save Them
We've all received them. The phone rings and the number appears to be local.
Then the caller informs you that your car warranty is up, and they can extend it. Or maybe you're told you've won a vacation at some tropical resort.
The pitch they make is so contrived, you wonder who would ever fall for it, and if it wasn't so annoying, you might even think it's funny. But these scams are serious business, and these scammers prey on elderly people.
These scammers can and do wipe out the life savings of seniors every day. It's a huge business. This is an example of one of these scams.
In this scam, the victim will see an official-looking pop-up from “Microsoft” informing them that their computer has been infected with a virus. They are given a number to call "immediately."
When the victim calls the number, they're connected to a “technician” who will ask a few logical questions, like “what do you see on the screen?” and “how long has this message been on your screen?”
The scammer will then walk the victim through the process of loading a program like TeamViewer or GoToAssist. These are computer remote access programs that are used by many companies’ IT departments. They allow IT people to access your computer from anywhere so that they can make repairs. Using programs like these makes it so that it’s like the IT person is sitting right in front of your computer. Scammers use these programs to infiltrate victims’ computers.
Next, the scammer will bring up screens that purportedly show large numbers of malware files and perhaps many users in the victim's computer system. The idea is to make it as scary as possible for the victim and create urgency to fix them.
The scammer will then show a screen that lists the various plans available to “fix” the computer and make it safe again. These plans may cost several hundred or even thousands of dollars. Once the victim selects a plan, the scammer will ask for the victim’s debit card information, and the money transfer will then take place.
The way to avoid being scammed is to never allow someone to enter your computer remotely unless you are 100% certain of who you are dealing with. Microsoft does provide malware removal tools, but they will not access your computer remotely to remove these threats.
It's important to note that these scammers prey on elderly folks who like to the access that the internet provides them, but aren't technologically sophisticated enough to know they're being scammed.