It was Thanksgiving morning. My wife and I were getting the big meal ready (okay, she was getting it ready and I was taste testing). Then, my phone started ringing with a call from Los Angeles. I do not really know anyone from Los Angeles, but I thought maybe it was someone calling to wish me a happy holiday.
Was it, in fact, a friend calling to wish me a happy Thanksgiving?
In fact, it was someone claiming to be with “Windows Tech Support”, saying that he was calling because a problem had been detected with my computer and that he was calling to help me fix it, which he could do remotely if I would give him some information.
The biggest problem with this, of course, is that I do not have a Windows computer, and I knew right away that this was a common scam, in which the caller was trying to get remote access to my computer so he could steal my personal information or cause some other kind of mischief.
This is a common scam. Over 80% of the computer-owning public has a Windows machine, so the caller was just playing the odds by identifying himself as “Windows Tech Support”. He was hoping that I would take the claim at face value, give him information to help him gain remote access to my computer, and then his dirty work could to commence.
Didn’t this guy know that I am a regional director of BBB? Didn’t he know that I have read about and heard about this exact type of scam over and over again? No, he did not have any clue who I am. To him, I was just a name on a list, someone he could try to scam, or that he could just move on from if the scam did not work.
In the end, I hung up on him, reported the call on BBB Scam Tracker, and went about my business. I will never hear from the scammer again and he is on to his next 1000 victims.
There is no real lesson for me to learn, but the important lesson to share is that this type of scam is out there, and anyone can be the target. There is basically nothing any of us can do to avoid scams like this, but we need to know about it because people fall for it all the time. They get the call, give the caller some information from their computer, and then bad things are going to happen.
All we can do is know about it so we do not fall for it ourselves, and so we can warn others. For any scam, knowledge of what to look for is always the greatest defense.