January 9, 2014 | Volume 119, Issue No. 2

Don't fall victim to scams

As much as I have written about scams, I was a victim of two of them recently. Fortunately, I was able to catch the problems in time and have them reversed.

I always check my credit card statements, and I noticed that I had three charges from TURKCELL from Istanbul, Turkey, on a recent statement. Each charge was for $47.70.

I called the credit card company and was told that the charges would be removed. My card would be blocked and a new one reissued.

The credit card companies are well aware of the scams, and are very helpful in assisting their customers in resolving the issue, while still keeping their clients.

I use Google for one of my email accounts, and one day a couple of months ago, I could no longer access my gmail account.

A picture of a man’s smiling face and holding a phone to his ear had appeared on the top of my screen not long before that. There was a question mark near it, indicating that it could be a source for help.

I clicked on that icon, and was given a phone number to call.

I called it, and a man with a strange accent answered. He said that they could fix it so that I could get gmail again, with no problem.

As he talked, I could barely understand him. He switched me to another man who was as difficult to understand as the first one.

But they said that they could help, so I stayed on the line, and I did what I had to do to log them in so that they could take over my computer and fix the problem.

He took me to a screen and showed me the list of programs on my computer. I recognized some of them and he pointed out others that were viruses.

Of course, they were using scare tactics to sell their product.

They pointed out the investment that I had in my computer and talked about lifetime protection from viruses that I could purchase for $400. My computer would speed up too, once the viruses had been removed.

I agreed to purchase the protection, and a female technician worked on my computer to get rid of the viruses for the next hour or so. I had to stay close to the phone; she said that she would call me when she wanted me to go back on the computer.

Supposedly the problems were fixed. She set me up with shortcuts to get to my two email accounts, and I was good to go. I had given my credit card numbers to them to purchase the protection.

My computer operated well after that, and I could access my emails again.

However, a couple of weeks later, I had more problems, and I called Jason at Moose-Tec, right here in Moose Lake. I should have taken my computer to him in the first place. He has always answered my questions and fixed any problems that I have brought to him before.

He told me to bring my computer in and he would try to get it ready in time for me to meet my deadlines for submitting stories to the Star Gazette. And he came through; I was able to submit my stories and photos in time.

Jason found 12 viruses that the other company didn’t remove from my computer. He also warned me again about those kinds of scams. He said that the company that I had dealt with, Superior Tech Help, did not have good reviews. Other people have had problems with them.

He took care of the problems with my computer and removed the viruses. He said that the icon of the picture of the man holding the phone to his ear had been a virus also.

His charge was just a fraction of what I had been charged before.

My heart sank when I realized that I had been scammed. But I went to the website for Superior Tech Help and sent the company an email to ask for a refund. I wrote that a local technician had found a dozen viruses that their technician had not removed.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I received a reply to that email that the refund would be issued. And I breathed another sigh of relief when I saw the credit on my credit card statement from that company.

My lessons can be everyone’s lessons. Check your credit card statements each month for charges that you did not make, and watch out for potential scams like I had been a victim of with technical help.

I received a call from someone else a few weeks later offering the same kind of help. The caller had the same accent, and he used the same script. It was probably from a different company.

He had me go to a certain screen on my computer and asked if there were more than 20 errors and alarms.

When I told him that there were, he used a common American expression that I thought was a little strange. Again, it was a scare tactic.

I hung up on him.

I called Jason and told him about that call and that the caller had shown me the problems that I still had on my computer. I told him what screen the caller had taken me to.

Jason said that was a list of the times that something didn’t work right on my computer, and I hadn’t been able to assess something at the time. It could have been a problem with a drive or something similar. It wasn’t a list of viruses, like the caller had told me.

That really opened my eyes as to the kind of scare tactics that they use. I, like so many others, don’t know the difference. We can be easily fooled.

I have learned my lesson once again. Instead of falling into the trap of going to an outside source that you can’t trust and that will just take your money without providing much service, I recommend that people call a local technician, like Jason at Moose-Tec.

Jason is very knowledgeable, and he is someone that you can trust. He also makes house calls, if necessary. You don’t have to have Internet service from Moose-Tec to use his services.

“It’s a nasty world out there,” he told me. I am the voice of experience.

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