The feds in the US seem incapable of stopping these phone and pop-up scammers; protect yourself.
Scams are nothing new, but they will continue as long as people keep picking up the phone or clicking on links and handing over their personal information.
A laughable IRS scam, for example, was recently busted as was a Microsoft support scam. With the IRS scam, someone called to say that the local sheriff had a warrant for your arrest and would imprison you in the next hour unless your unpaid taxes were not paid immediately. I’ve received two or three of these calls and love to play along until the caller gets tired of my bullcrap responses. I often tell them my name is Richard Nixon and give some fake address.
The idea was to get a credit card charge or something approved so they could steal some money. Two totally different operations doing the exact same scam were eventually busted in India after making millions. I assume there are still a few more operating.
Another creative scam must be run by a slew of criminal organizations. Here, you’re informed that your computer has somehow been infected by malware and you have to do something immediately. You might get a phone call or a pop-up message on your machine. The pop-up message is either an advertisement or some code from a dubious website you may have visited.
The goal is to sucker the American people into giving control of their computers to the crooks. The scammer will request remote access to your machine to fix a non-existent problem. Once you grant them permission, they can install malware, steal your passwords, or lock down your machine and demand payment.
If I get a pop up, I usually close the browser and run my anti-malware or antivirus software to clean things up. If I get a call, sometimes I play along. They tell me to execute some code and I keep saying it gives me an error message, which I make up. (“It says cannot execute. File not found.”) The frustration that builds eventually leads to a hang up; you can also tell the guy that you are on a Mac and see what happens.
Just remember, neither Microsoft nor the IRS ever calls you or serves pop-up messages on your machine (except to nag you into upgrading to Windows 10, maybe). You get letters from the IRS if there is an issue with your taxes, and Microsoft expects you to call them if there is a problem.
If you want to see how weak the American government’s response is to this sort of international criminal organization, read the press release for a recent FTC response to all this. Very lame for fraudulent activity that is bilking the public out of tens of millions of dollars and perhaps aiding in the establishment of illegal bot networks worldwide. Since millions of dollars are involved in these scams, you’d think law enforcement would prioritize this. I’m not seeing much of an effort.
I still get calls from Rachel at Card Services, but that’s another scam for another time.