Internet Scams: Don’t Be a Victim

Internet ScamsLast week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued an alert about tech support themed internet scams.  In these schemes, fraudulent callers claim to be from legitimate technical support organizations and offer to remotely fix a computer problem that doesn’t exist.

In an April 5th Consumer Information blog, the FTC reported that people are getting calls from someone claiming to be from the Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) which is a legitimate organization.  The caller claims that your email account has been hacked and sending fraudulent messages.  They say they’ll have to take legal action against you, unless you let them fix the problem right away.  TOTAL SCAM, GPEN has an alert on its website that it did not make calls or send emails.

Social Engineering and Phishing are Becoming More Common

Social Engineering occurs when an attacker uses human interaction (social skills) to obtain or compromise information about an individual, an organization, or their computer systems.

Phishing is a form of social engineering. Phishing uses email or malicious websites to solicit personal information by posing as a trustworthy organization. For example, an attacker may send email seemingly from a reputable credit card company that requests account information, often suggesting that there is a problem. When users respond with the requested information, attackers can use it to gain access to the accounts. Phishing attacks may also appear to come from other types of organizations, such as charities. Attackers often take advantage of current events and certain times of the year, including:

  • natural disasters (e.g., Hurricane Katrina, Indonesian tsunami) 
  • epidemics and health scares (e.g., H1N1)  
  • economic concerns (e.g., IRS scams)  
  • major political elections  
  • holidays

Steps You can Take to Avoid Being Scammed

Staying out of trouble with scammers is a matter of keeping on your toes and never giving access to your personal information to someone who calls or emails you. When fielding unsolicited calls and emails, remember:

  • Don’t give control of your computer to anyone who calls you offering to “fix” your computer.
  • Never give out or confirm your financial or sensitive information to anyone who contacts you.
  • Getting pressure to act immediately is a sure sign of a scam. Hang up.
  • Do not contact the entity that the caller gives you.
  • If you have concerns, contact your security software company directly.

The FTC has an easy to navigate Complaint Assistant webpage that allows you to submit complaints when you suspect Internet scams.

United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) is another great resource to keep you informed about these scams.

FYI: OTELCO Network Operations Technical Support will NOT

  • ask to take control of your computer
  • ask for your password
  • ask for credit card information  (only customer billing and customer service may need this information)

Please share this information with you colleagues, friends, and family.  As your provider of telephone and / or Internet services, OTELCO works diligently to protect your privacy and provide you with a secure digital environment.  Please contact our 24/7 technical support team at 877-643-6246 should you have questions or concerns.

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