Your identity is one hot commodity in today’s world of online business and high tech living. This is especially true if you are an older person with a good credit history who may be a bit more gullible and lonely, or just more inclined to think people are more honest than they are.
These new identity thiefs are really just new versions of the scam artists of old. They are the modern reincarnations of the guys selling “miracle medicine” on the street in the old western towns, except now instead of just taking a few dollars, they can take someone’s entire life savings.
One of the latest scams reported is a cold-call phishing scheme taking advantage of the fact that so many older individuals, especially baby boomers are online. In this scheme, the caller phones an older individual claiming to be from Microsoft and states that the “customer’s” computer has been sending “error” messages to the “technician”. This “technician” then asks the “customer” to allow the “technician” remote access to the “customer’s” computer to “fix” the problem. As you can imagine, when this is allowed, the scam artist then has access to every bit of personal information that has ever passed through that computer. Anything that’s been used to purchase anything online, any bit of medical information that may have been stored, any information used to get a driver’s license, social security card, tax information, etc.
This is a devious scam because many older individuals, who use computers may not understand exactly how the system operates. They may not know, for example that software updates are automatic and that Microsoft will never call them asking for information or access to their computer!
Unfortunately, what also seems to be happening with these phishing scams is an increase in intimidation and aggression tactics. If the target resists the scammer’s attempts to get information or access to information, the scammer will begin to threaten the target. In one recent case in Los Altos, CA, a scam artist attempted the Microsoft error scam on a woman who was pretty tech savvy. When she informed him that he was lying and pointed out that Microsoft corrects errors through software updates, he told her that if she didn’t comply that he’d freeze or shut down her computer. His emotional intensity increased and at one point he was even yelling at her over the phone.
One of the things that makes this such a hard crime to fight is that it remains to underreported. Many times, an older individual is embarrassed that they have been duped or they may be afraid they’ll lose their independence. Don’t be one of these people! This is fraud and these people are criminals! If someone takes advantage of your good nature and steals from you, report them to law enforcement!
Together, we can send them packing! Remember, LIVE OUT LOUD and SPEAK UP!!