I always say, “If only these hackers and scammers would use their evil powers for good…”
Instead, they spend their time wreaking havoc on innocent people who are just trying to earn some honest money.
The Phone Call
Yesterday I was almost a victim of a phishing scam. Thankfully I had enough sense and cynicism to be wary of what this scammer was telling me but that got me thinking about all the people who fall for this trick.
Especially work-at-home parents or solopreneurs who are just starting their businesses and maybe aren’t as savvy about the scamming that abounds online. These are also the people who don’t have extensive IT departments at their beck and call to investigate these things.
The basic premise of the phone call – which was listed on Caller ID as an ‘unknown number’ – was that my computer had supposedly been sending malicious files of viruses and malware to the Windows Live team and they had no choice but to shut down my Windows operating system, rendering my computer unusable.
Panic started to set in because, after all, I depend on my computer for work!
The Oscar should go to this scamming thief because he had just the right amount of urgency mixed with sincerity in his voice to make me think that this could be legitimate. And he had an answer to EVERY single question I asked and in the heat of the moment, his answers certainly made sense (although now, with a clear head, they seem ridiculous).
So we went around in circles for a bit, me asking the same questions and him telling me that I “will just have to believe in him”.
The telltale sign was when I asked about a customer service number that I could call, to verify his identity and that he truly worked for Windows Live. He explained that he was calling from a callcenter with a private number and there was no other customer service number to call.
Yup, I hung up in that second.
Tips for Avoiding Phishing Scams and Hackers
First and foremost, never allow anyone remote access to your computer. Doing this with a client you know is one thing but don’t ever allow a cold caller like this one access, no matter how viable their story sounds. He would have had immediate access to all my passwords, banking info…I can’t even bear the thought of what kind of trouble he could have caused for me.
Secondly, don’t click on email links; always go to the main site’s page and login that way. Scammers are excellent with making their Paypal scams look official.
Thirdly, change your passwords on your sites frequently and make them difficult to crack. This will likely result in having to use a password manager software but as one who had a website hacked, it ain’t no fun! And it doesn’t matter how small your company is. My site they hacked sat dormant for many months, wasn’t even making any AdSense money, and yet they still took the time to cause trouble.
Or maybe it was the equivalent of a ‘gang initiation’ where a newbie hacker just had to test his skills.
Here are some more tips for keeping your WordPress websites safe.
And be careful out there!