Scammers, malware, and virus' - OH MY!

March 13, 2020


2020, another year guaranteed to be packed with more attempts to fraud people worldwide out of billions of dollars.

Here are some 2019 scam statistics:
According to the FTC, 3.2 million reports were given to them. 

The most commonly reported scams of 2019.

#1 - Imposter scams - a reported loss of more than $667 million to people pretending to be government officials, a well-known business, a romantic interest, or a family member in crisis.  Scammers typically would have the victim pay them with gift cards.  

#2 - Social Security imposters - 166,190 reports.  Median loss was $1,500.

#3 - Phone calls were the number one way people were contacted by scammers.  Most just hung up but total average loss of people was $1,000 in 2019.

On a happier note, as a result of reports to the FTC, more than $232 million was refunded to those that lost money.  Total number of people receiving these payments was more than 1.9 million people.  In the last four years over a billion dollars was refunded.

So far in 2020 we have seen an increase in call volume and amounts being frauded.  Here is a list of the most common scams of 2020:

1) Microsoft Scam - This one appears in a few forms.  Either a pop-up or call saying your windows has expired, your network is being hacked, or that you have a virus.  These scammers represent themselves as Microsoft and go as far as to give actual contact information for real Microsoft employees.  Most of these people are not even on the same continent as us.  Since Windows 7 has gone end of life, they have used that tactic as a way to scam users.  They tell users that their operating system needs to be upgraded then offer a yearly fee to do so.  While Windows 7 has indeed gone end of life Microsoft will not contact you by phone nor ask to access your system to upgrade you.

2) Ransomware - This one continues to evolve.  An executable file is hidden within an email attachment, office document, link, and even some website links.  Once installed it will encrypt your data and hold it ransom.  Typically these scammers use bitcoin as payment.  Depending on the data value victims will either pay it or take the loss.  Ransomware cost Americans over $7.5 billion dollars in 2019 and it is sure to cost more in 2020.  The best defense for ransomware is to educate your family and employees to never open attachments from unknown individuals.  This can be tricky though when email addresses are spoofed and contents look authentic to a particular business.  Always examine the email address it came from and hover over any links to see the intended destination.  Most browsers will let you see the destination on the bottom bar.  But don't click on it.

3) Phishing Scams - Phishing is defined as any communication that is trying to get information from you by using fraudulent means.  For instance, have you ever received an email or text from your bank saying your account is locked?  This is an example of phishing.  99.9% it is set up to look like your financial institution and even displays the logo and other contact information.  The link provided also takes you to a site that looks like your institutions login page.  But it isn't.  This is done so you will use your login and password.  They get your login info, access your account, and take money.  This type of scam is also used for paypal, shipping companies, ebay, amazon, and many others.  If you get a request or notice like this go to the link you have used in the past.  If you are ever in doubt contact the company directly.

4) Fake Virus - It was mentioned in #1 but I felt this topic needs its own explanation.  You are just surfing along and boom a pop-up claims you are infected with a virus and you need to call this number immediately.  This tactic is meant to scare you and all the supporting images with the pop-up assist in doing just that.  So, lets break down a typical pop-up virus...
- First, scammers have added a robotic voice to their ruse.  The voice uses phrases like pornography, credit card theft, pirated software, passwords stolen, your information will be lost, and that this event will be reported to authorities.
- You will notice that the images on the screen may display your IP address, a multitude of error codes, perhaps use your camera and snap a picture of you, and even have logos for the FBI, CIA, and Interpol.  
- The number it wants you to call may have a Microsoft or popular pc brand logo attached to it.
- There is no easy way out of the window

Do NOT call the number!  If you are unable to get out of the window using CTRL+ALT+DEL then press and hold the power button for up to 25 seconds til the computer pops off.  Give it a few seconds then turn it back on.  Most likely if you shut it completely off it won't be there when you get back to your desktop.  If it is there try holding the power button longer this time.  If it still remains there call us and we can give you additional steps.
When you get back to your desktop run a complete antivirus scan.

Bottom line advice...

Don't trust unsolicited callers
Double check any unusual claims
Never allow a stranger to access your computer
Get tech information straight from the source

If you have any questions you can email or call us at any time!