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PHONE CALLS...
  • TECH SUPPORT CALLS - These are usually from someone indicating they are an "authorized" Microsoft (or Apple, Samsung etc) tech support person with the job of "fixing" your PC  they tell you have seen a problem with it and is causing problems on the internet. They will want you to install a special  remote control program and then give them access to your PC. DON"T DO IT. Microsoft etc. does not do this. In fact, they do not monitor your PC this way for this purpose. The only thing that Microsoft etc. monitor is usage statistic unless you revoke the privilege.

    If you receive such a call, just hang up. It is best you not even listen to them. It could cost you. If you find that you have been caught by this, turn off the machine, or at least disconnect it from the internet. You may need to contact a local technical source to have it examined. You also need to change ALL passwords, those for the machine and any on-line accounts. You also need to un install the software the scammer had you install and any other software that was installed at the same time. This can be tricky and here is when you may need outside help. Find someone local you trust and has a good working knowledge of PC's. Two "for pay" that most have access to are the Geek Squad (Best Buy) and Staples. They do charge but could be worth the expense. Sources of this type are bonded against foul play. A worst case scenario is you might have to re-install your operating system from scratch. (Do you do backups? You should; at least your data.) This would include any software not included in the operating system and all your data.

  • FINANCIAL INSTITUTION CALLS (Banks, Credit Card companies etc) - These are common. You receive a call from one of these indicating there is a problem and they need you to verify your personal information. It's a SCAM. Never give your information over the phone unless you initiated the call. Even then, be careful. Should you find you have given out your information, call the institution and freeze your account.

    Your bank etc. will not make a call of this kind and ask for verification of your information. Again, it is best to hang up. You should report it to the real institution that you received a call. If there is a real problem, the institution will call and have you call them at a phone number you already possess, like on your statements or the back of your credit card.

  • OTHER TYPES OF CALLS - Calls are received every day from scammers offering better credit cards, extended warranties on your "expired" or "soon to expire" cars. They pretend to be a representative of your car manufacturer but when quizzed they do not know what car you have. While there are maybe some good versions of this type of extension, most are frauds. They do not pay up as advertised. The primary one on credit cards is usually from "Credit Card Services" or something like that. This is one trying to get personal information. Hang up.

    One interesting category are calls from Law Enforcement associations saying they represent your local police, state police etc. ((% of them are fake. I have talked to local police and a friend retired from the NJ state police. They all say "Hang Up." They will scam you out of your money. If you want to donate to something like this, call your local police and ask them who are the good guys.

    Many of  any of the above calls often start out as a robocall and require you to select something to talk to a real person. Don't - just hang up. Don't  respond to get on their no-more-calls list. That's a fake also. It just tells them you exist. If you want, use the federal "do not call" list. It has some effect but scammers just ignore it anyway.

    There are services that may help you for a fee or free. A good free one for land line numbers and internet based like Verizon FIOS is called NOMOROBO (www.normorobo.com). They work fairly well, allowing you to request numbers be blocked. Look at their website to see how this works. For some phones, like wireless numbers, there is a monthly charge. This company is working very hard trying to get the FCC to do something real to get the phone companies to get busy and fix this. Verizon actually recommends you consider using them. NOMOROBO does block political numbers (if it is a registered party number). If you want political calls, you tell NOMOROBO and they will allow them through. Also, legal charities will never blocked unless you tell them to block them. The FCC allows them to do what ever they want.

    A majority of the calls you get come from off-shore making it difficult for the government to do anything about it. One thing the scammers do is spoof the caller ID so their real number never shows. Some only use out of service numbers will some use real numbers. As an example, a couple of months ago I received a call and the caller ID displayed my own home phone number. The software is readily available to do this even though it is illegal to do so. They don't care.

    I received a notice from Verizon that on 12/18/2017 they will be marking calls deemed to be from telemarketers and other robo-calls with the "SPAM" designator just before the name or number on your caller ID readout. This should help users decide if you want to pick up the call. Hopefully other phone service providers will follow suit.
EMAIL and the INTERNET...

SCAM/SPAM Emails; if you use a computer/pad/smartphone and access email, you have received messages that fit this category. If you are lucky, your email provider will catch  and relegate them to a "SPAM" or "JUNK" folder. It all depends on your providers email rules and system software. Some are better than others. You can help build the rules by moving emails you determine to be SPAM to that special folder. Hopefully your provider or your email reader will have the ability to learn from "experience."

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Look at the sender, if you do not know who it is you may want to just delete it or move it to the SPAM folder. Look at any internet links in the message. Try to determine if it is from a good source or not. For instance, for a message from your bank may want you to select an included link for some reason.  You can examine the link by hovering the mouse/cursor over the link but do not select it (don't click). Your browser or email reader has a status line (usually at the bottom of the window) you should see the real link. If it shows the address of your bank, then it should be ok. If it shows something different then it is most likely SPAM or a SCAM in an attempt to compromise your internet browser, email software or the computer itself.

As an example, a message from Bank of America should show...

https://www.bankofamerica.com/

There could be something in front of the bankofamerica delineated by a "." and  maybe something after the "/". If it shows something like this...

(fake) https://www.bankofamerica.foobar.com/

or no bankofamerica at all, it is a SCAM attempt. Nothing should ever come after the bankofamerica and the ".com" part.

Use these rules of operation for any email you receive and  stay safe. Don't fall for things that look to good to be true. Email and the Internet are safe places as long as you are vigilant and follow simple rules. Don't get caught. No real company, bank etc. will ever ask you to click on a link and "verify" your information, yet many fall for this everyday. They will notify you by mail or phone and have you call them via a number you already have. If they give a number in an email or snail mail, it is probably fake. I cannot express this enough - BE CAREFUL. If it seems I am yelling, I am.



There will be more on this page as time goes by, especially at tax time. TT is one of the scammers favorite time of year.



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