Picture it: you’re on Facebook doing the usual—checking on family, clicking links to interesting articles that might come up in your feed, or even playing those (sometimes ridiculous) Facebook games. Out of nowhere, a window appears over your Facebook—the dreaded pop-up. It’s HUGE! It’s making unwanted, loud noises. Everytime you click the X to make it go away, it just keeps coming back. It’s like your computer has stopped functioning, only to host the malicious pop-up. You look at the text on the pop-up window, “Your computer has the worst, biggest, and most malicious virus! Act now or lose all of your data!” A feeling of sheer terror comes over you, and a shiver travels down your spine. Could this be the end of your computer? It’s almost like something out of a horror movie (a poorly written one, at least). You’ve almost given up and are ready to throw in the towel, when a second pop-up appears: this one is different, like a superhero with a cape in the style of the Microsoft logo swooping down to save the day. This hero pop-up gives you a line of hope, “Call this number now, and we’ll fix your computer. Never lose your data or your computer, again!”
So, the obvious plan of action is to call the number on the hero pop-up. After being received by a robotic voice, someone answers on the other end. They let you know that the virus is something they handle all of the time, and they even show you what they’re claiming to be “the problems” with your system. They also boast about their 500+ inclusive security software package, where for a one-time payment of hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars, you’ll be protected forever from any potential virus, and any other malware that might damage your computer. Unknowingly, you decide your only option is to pay the ludicrous amount of money, and after several button clicks, and installing several pieces of software, your computer is running as good as new. Or is it?
As silly and terrifying as this story might seem, it actually happens to people on a daily basis. People will call the number that pops up on the computer because they think the pop-up is real, and that someone is looking out for them on the Internet. It has what looks like a Microsoft logo on it, so the number must be real. But in reality, this is a scam. Never call these numbers! Microsoft is a large company with hundreds of different pieces of software and hardware. They don’t, and won’t, monitor your computer (or anyone else’s). Microsoft would never send you a pop-up from the internet saying something is wrong with your computer. The only way Microsoft would contact you is by email, through a Microsoft account that you set up with them. And most of the time, they contact you only if you make purchases or new software is coming out, otherwise you’ll never hear from them. Most likely you clicked a link to a site that may be infected or you clicked on a site that redirected you somewhere else that made the pop-up occur. One thing you can do to prevent this is to get an adblocking extension for your browser—like uBlock Origin. Also, you can run your anti-virus and/or a secondary scan like MalwareBytes just to check if there are any viruses or malware that may have accidentally been downloaded. You can also bring the device into Armor, and we will run our viruses scans and help make sure there your device is secure.
Now, if you happen to call and work with these “technicians,” do not leave the computer unattended. Leaving your device unattended allows for the scammer on the other end to install additional malicious software, or even lock you out of your computer, causing further frustrations and costing you more of your hard-earned money. One of the fastest ways to tell if it’s a scam is by what form of payment they request from you. Any business, especially the size of Microsoft, has no problem taking credit card information. These scammers, however, ask that instead of a credit card, check, or cash payment, that you supply them with codes from gift cards (one of the most popular being iTunes). The reason for this is because those methods of payment are non-refundable—so, once you’ve given them the code, there’s no way for you to fight the charge or get your money back. And think about it, after everything you’ve been through trying to get your computer back to working condition, you realize they’ve scammed you out of hundreds of dollars, and you can’t do a thing about it—leading to further frustration.
So, what should you actually do if you see this behavior? Your best bet is to bring it into Armor and let the professionals handle the dirty work for you. With a suite of security and virus-scanning software in our arsenal, plus our experienced technicians, we’ll make sure your device is virus and malware free. We will also run your system through a system optimization, making sure it’s running as good as new by the time you pick it up. One of the biggest concerns with this sort of virus and malware is that these scammers can leave holes in your computer for them to access later. We’ll make sure those holes are closed, too, so you have the peace of mind knowing your computer is fully protected.
As with any occurrence of hacking, malware, and viruses, we also recommend you change your passwords. We don’t think about it, with the ease of autofill on most browsers, but if they had access to your computer, they also had access to that autofill information. Your credit card, Facebook, email, and more can all be compromised, so taking the added step of changing and updating your passwords (we recommend using passphrases); you’re further protecting yourself from additional harm.
So what’s the takeaway from this? First, remember that nobody is directly monitoring your computer, and big-name companies like Microsoft and Google will never reach out to you directly about your individual device. Unfortunately, the Internet is such a vast space, and you can’t believe everything you read or see on it. There are people out there looking to take advantage of the ignorant and ill-informed, so one of the best courses of action is to research and learn a little about your system and how it works, so you can be better prepared to stop malicious acts before they happen.
Think about this idea in a different context: someone knocks on your door, and you answer it. Standing before you is a person who claims that they have been monitoring your refrigerator, and they don’t think it’s working correctly. For only $500 they’ll come in now and fix it for you. Are you going to pay them and let them into your home? Or are you going to close the door, or remind the person that they’re soliciting, and you would appreciate it if they would leave? Nobody has the opportunity to monitor your refrigerator from outside your house, so why trust that they have your best interest in mind? The same is true in the pop-up scenario.
If you end up being the unfortunate victim of a scam like this, or any type of malware, virus, or device problem—bring it into Armor Techs. We’ll diagnose the problem, let you know what we find, and get you up and running as quickly and smoothly as possible. Have questions, or want to know if we can get that device running like new? Contact us today, and one of our experienced technicians will get back to you with some information! Don’t have time to wait? Bring the device into Armor today, and we’ll get you on your way to a new, happy, virus-free device!