Your computer was hacked. What do you do?
Take a moment and imagine with me.
The Story of A Computer Hacked
It’s an average Sunday, first thing in the morning.
You’re in your sleepy clothes, hair sticking up, sitting on the couch, cup of coffee in hand. You open your computer to see what’s going on in the world and a screen pops up you’ve never seen before. It’s a message from Microsoft.
“Ooooh! Microsoft for meeeee?”, you think.
Curious, you read on.
“Alert! Alert!”, it says. “Your personal information could be under attack”.
“You’ve been hacked!”, it says.
You inhale sharply as a sense of dread swells in the pit of your stomach. “I’m not even awake all the way yet!”, you say to the cat.
Hacked?! What?! No!
Your Personal Information Is Compromised
You & your family’s whole life is on that machine. Your bank information, your journal, photos from your kids’ wedding…. Oh my god am I going to have to get a new cards & bank accounts & what about total identity theft? My credit is good. I worked hard for that, you think.
You feel utter panic.
Then, like a beacon in a sea of despair, you see a phone number.
“Call to resolve this urgent issue”, they say.
Oh good, you think; a phone number. #$*@ computers! At least you can still trust the phone.
You call. A very professional sounding person answers the line saying “blah blah blah Microsoft blah blah how can I help you?”.
Relief. A real human.
They tell you not to worry. This happens all the time. And they tell you you’ve been a victim of cybercrime. Your computer has been hacked.
Then they tell you they can easily fix it for you. They’ll just need you to allow them to access your computer remotely. It’s easy, fast, secure and you don’t have to run down to the nearest tech store. And they’ll walk you through it every step of the way. You’re not alone.
You hear the clicking of keys on the other end of the line and think, Phew! I’m so glad they caught this. I could’ve lost everything!
They tell you they can take out the virus, they just need your credit card information to pay for their services. You gladly comply. You need this nasty virus gone.
Remember when they told you not to worry. When they told you this happens all the time & you’ve been a victim?
They’re right. It does happen all the time. You were a victim.
What they don’t tell you, is that… they’re the criminals!
Preying on your fear, they have finagled full access to every file in your computer. They have access to your saved passwords, your documents, and photos. And to make matters worse, they often put in a virus that captures every keystroke you type, giving them access to your usernames, passwords, contact lists & bank accounts so they can just…keep…stealing.
You can’t see what they’ve done in the background. You have no idea. What normal person would? You, like most people, just want to check the news. Your email. Balance the checkbook & maybe scroll through Facebook and see what cousin so and so is up to in Arizona…
It’s disgusting. Who would do something like that? And then you think, “How was I so stupid? What was I thinking?”
Don’t beat yourself up! The thing is, they’re creative people…
According to the Better Business Bureau, in the first nine months of 2017 alone the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI received more than 41,000 tech scam complaints which resulted in over $21 million in losses. And that’s only the ones that were reported! How many people didn’t do so because they didn’t know how or felt too embarrassed? The FTC states that less than 10 percent of scam victims actually report it.
As you can see, if you’ve been hacked, you are definitely not alone. These are some seriously crafty jerks we’re dealing with.
How to Spot & Be Prepared for a Fake Tech Support Scam
- Microsoft & Google will never call you about a virus or ask for money. Anyone who calls you and says they’re from those companies is lying. Hang up on them. If you’d like to listen to an example call with an undercover FTC agent, visit the FTC’s news page here.
- If you see a warning about a virus in a popup on your computer, call your trusted, local tech support. Do not call any number you see on your computer.
- When searching for a real tech, be wary of ads you find online. Fake techs do ads too. Get referrals from friends or family, or find someone locally.
- And, print out a copy of our handy postcard What To Do If You’ve Been Hacked. Keep it by your computer so you’re prepared to fight back if hackers find their way to you.
What To Do If You Were Hacked
- If you have a desk top computer, unplug it or disconnect it from the internet. If you have a laptop, unplug it and remove the battery as this will stop the hacker from being able to log in to your system.
- If you gave them your credit card or bank card number, call your card provider’s fraud department immediately and let them know.
- Go to a different computer or your phone and change the passwords for all of your accounts. Start with the big ones like your bank account & credit card account first. Then follow with the rest. Don’t forget about shopping sites you use and subscription services.
How To Report A Scam
- Report the scam to the FTC. Every complaint and report matters when trying to stop hackers.
- Report the issue to the FBI via their Internet Crime Complaint Center.
- And lastly, contact your State Attorney General’s Office. If you’re in PA, you can fill out a Consumer Complaint form here.
If your computer has been hacked and you’re in the Lehigh Valley, give us a call. One of our real techs will gladly take a look at your machine. We’ve had many customers come in with this problem and we’ll be happy to get you back up and running safely.
Better Business Bureau: Tech Scam Study
FTC: Tech Support Scams