Scam artists on the prowl
I read with interest Kendall Wild’s column about being scammed online in the April 17 edition of the Rutland Herald because I was recently scammed online, too.
On April 6 I received an urgent call from a supposed Windows agent in California. Mark informed me that my computer was at risk of crashing and that I needed to turn my computer on immediately so Windows could repair damage to my computer. After speaking to Mark’s supervisor, Jane, I reluctantly agreed to turn it on. Jane then showed me all the viruses that were threatening to crash my computer. The rest of my story unfolds in a manner very similar described in Mr. Wild’s column, even to the point of being given the option of paying $150 for two years of coverage, $250 for five years and $400 for lifetime antivirus protection.
Where the story changes is that I refused to give my credit care number over the phone or on my computer. At that point Jane’s very aggressive supervisor, David, got on the phone and insisted that I purchase Windows antivirus protection. When I again refused, David became very insulting and said I was acting like an ignorant peasant. When David refused to give me his business phone number, I hung up.
In hindsight I wish I never answered the phone because my computer is shut down and it will be some time before I can get it repaired. It’s embarrassing for me to admit that I agreed to turn my computer on despite my many doubts, but I was lulled in part by always being turned over to a supervisor whenever I had questions. In the past I’ve had dealings with companies that have outsourced technical support to other countries, so I wasn’t surprised by the heavy accents of all three of the supposed Windows agents, also because I could hear voices and phones ringing in the background, which suggested a call center.
Since being scammed, I’ve learned from various sources there is very little that can be done to prevent or punish online hackers from breaking into an unsuspecting victim’s home and stealing their identity or vandalizing their computer in very costly and harmful ways.
Despite the many advantages modern technology brings, I was naive enough to suppose having an unpublished phone number and Norton Security as part of my Comcast package was sufficient protection to keep online hackers at bay. Since I now understand just how little recourse there really is, I’m beginning to reconsider the benefits of a plain old-fashioned word processor.