When life’s going a little too perfect, that’s when I know the universe is getting ready to screw everything up.
I use Leslie’s laptop every day. Writing, emailing, banking, news gathering. My dining room table and a collapsible canvas box are my workspace. We get along great. I’m close to the shredder, coffee pot and refrigerator, and I can easily charge my cellphone while I’m working.
Today was a good day. I straightened out an insurance issue, sent out some greeting cards, and was just getting ready to ruminate on what I’d write about today. I clicked on my local newpaper’s website for some news when, all of a sudden, messages popped up on the screen, another message warned me I was trying to unlawfully enter a government website, and a voice was telling me to call the number on my screen to fix the issue at once. And the voice wouldn’t shut up.
What to do? Is this a scam? Do I call the number for Microsoft that looked legit, but could very well have been a fake number? I thought it might be bogus when an actual live human being answered the phone right away. A heavily-accented man named Martin started telling all the things that might be wrong with the computer. I still wasn’t sure if I was talking to someone in the U.S.
Martin asked permission to remotely access my computer, and I knew I had to say yes in order to shut the voice down and fix the obvious problems. I followed his cursor as he showed me that there were 37 corrupted connections and several out-of-the-country IP addresses that were attempting to get into my email addresses.
Well, that was surprising! And alarming, to be sure. Martin worked from his end and informed me that I didn’t have any Microsoft security protection on my computer.
Another red flag for me was that Martin was hard to hear on the phone. His voice kept cutting in and out, and it sounded like he was speaking from a bathtub. When I told him I couldn’t understand him, he’d fix something and then say “can you hear me now?” And then I remembered hearing about the current scam where a robocall scammer who wants to steal your identity and money calls you and asks “can you hear me now?” If you say “yes,” the system records your response and uses it to make it sound like you agreed to their service. You could then get hit with unexpected charges.
I was apprehensive to give Martin my credit card information, but I was convinced that this was all on the up-and-up. After many attempts at logging into the payment screen (“give me a few seconds, Miss Caryn”), payment was made and a technician at Geek Online Support was remotely cleaning and tuning the computer and optimizing the browser.
After an hour, I was able to once again get on the computer, and it’s now working much faster. Just a warning: buy computer protection and be aware of scams.