NEW COMPUTER THREAT
A few weeks ago, a woman who wishes to remain anonymous called my office to inquire about a strange phone call from someone who claimed to represent her network provider. The caller informed her that her computer had a virus. She immediately hung up and attempted to verify the caller’s claims. It sounded like a scam. Network service providers don’t normally telephone customers with virus alerts.
My wife also mentioned that one of her coworkers had received a similar phone call. Was this the beginning of a new scam for computer owners?
Last week, another woman who also wishes to remain anonymous called to ask about a similar phone call but this one got my attention. The caller said that she received a phone call from someone who also claimed to represent her network provider notifying her that her computer was infected with a virus. The scammer asked for her credit card information to remove the virus.
The lady was caught off guard and provided her credit card information to the scammer. After the scammer had the credit card information, he gained control of the victim’s computer. The victim didn’t have to do anything for the scammer to take control of her system. She watched the pointer move around the screen as the scammer remained on the phone. He promised her that all would be fine and she would be able to get back on the computer after a few hours. What did the scammer do while he had access to the computer?
The victim’s computer must have been infected with a virus that notified the scammer a victim was in his web and also allowed the scammer to control the victim’s computer. After the victim thought about things, she called the credit card and her network provider. She cancelled her credit card and scheduled a service call.
An examination of the infected computer did reveal that a rootkit, a virus that is difficult to detect, had been installed. Names of viruses are not important, one virus protection company calls a particular virus “XYZ” while another company could call the same virus “QRZ”.
What should you do if you receive a similar phone call? Hang up! Your next action should be to verify that your computer free of any viruses. Any competent computer repair provider can confirm that your computer is free of viruses. Don’t trust any magical programs that promise to remove viruses unless you thoroughly check the program developer ‘s reputation on the Internet. You can always completely erase and format your computer’s hard drive and reinstall the operating system.
Viruses can be very sophisticated programs that are difficult to remove. The best advice is, “Don’t catch a virus…”.