In our first scenario, our client received an email from “CenturyLink Support,” the text of which is below. (Spelling/grammar errors included. Links are removed for your safety.) This bogus message was clearly NOT from a CenturyLink representative. Although this message might seem to be legitimate, CenturyLink never asks clients for their account information in an email.
“Dear Subscriber, We are deleting all unused webmail accounts to create more space for new account and better Online service efficiency. Please Click the Link Below to Validate Your Mailbox. Failure To Validate Your Quota May Result in Loss Of Important Information In Your Mailbox/Or deactivated of your webmail account from our database.. Thanks Account Help Desk”
Fortunately, our customer realized this was not from CenturyLink and did not click on the link. Typically a scam like this will link to a malicious site that may attempt to load malicious software on your computer and steal your information. If you receive emails of this nature, always delete them!
Another scam we came across took the form of a webpage claiming “serious security threats might have been detected.” The website was providing this warning to “CenturyLink Customer” and they (the customer) should call an 800 number right away to deal with the threat. This webpage used things like the customer’s IP address and location in an effort to scare them into calling the number. Calling the number on the screen would put you in contact with a representative claiming to be from CenturyLink who then gives you a second number to call for help in removing the threats. If you call that number, a technician from a “remote support company” will then attempt to gain access to your computer via remote login session.
Giving an unknown person access to your computer is NEVER a good idea. In this case, the support call would have cost anywhere from $200-$500 depending on the length of the call! In addition to being scammed out of those funds, providing such a person with your credit card can give them access to your account. While connected to your computer, they will often install backdoors for later access, key logging programs to get your passwords, and other malicious software.
What can you do about these kind of scams? As usual, your first line of defense is a solid antivirus product, but no software can replace a cautious user. Be careful about the sites you visit and the links you click on. Always check links by hovering your cursor over them to see where they go. Never open emails from people or companies you don’t know. Never give your credit card information over the phone. Never allow someone who calls you to access your computer.
Consider buying an antivirus program. While we have long been advocates of free antivirus programs (effective ones), in some cases a paid version is the better option. Paid antivirus programs offer greater levels of protection against more threats than their free counterparts. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Also, not all antivirus programs are as good as the next, and picking one that’s right for your needs can be a chore. Fortunately, we do all the hard work for you by tracking the top performing security programs throughout the year so we can recommend only the best products for our customers.
If you have been the victim of a scam, there are several things you should do. To start with, if you have made a payment, contact your credit card company or bank right away to file a fraud claim. They will rescind the transaction and issue you a new card. Second, you should use another (safe) computer to update all your online account passwords. Third, contact us to remove any malicious software from your computer. Finally, don’t be afraid to call us if you’re unsure if you’ve been scammed or if you run across something suspicious. We’re happy to give input about whether your situation warrants concern or action.
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