When we say “stay safe,” we generally mean, “I hope you don’t get the Coronavirus disease.”
Perhaps “stay safe” should also apply to protecting yourself from cybercriminals who are trying to profit from pandemic fears. Because of Covid-19, there has been a new onslaught of computer viruses, email phishing scams, malicious text messages, and ransomware.
However, there’s another type of scam that we specifically want to bring to your attention and warn you about here today — fake computer support phone calls. They are on the rise!
Royalwise is hearing about this directly from frantic clients who eventually realized those callers were scammers! Unfortunately, however, they’ve been letting us know AFTER having already talked on the phone with these supposed “support agents” and screen-shared their computers!
Fortunately, I have been able to undo the security threats and fix the problems.
I’m reaching out to you now because I don’t want any of this to happen to you! So here are a few things you need to know to “stay safe” online during these unusual Coronavirus times.
Apple Support does not call people unsolicited!
If you call Apple Care and ask for a call back, they will, of course, follow up. However, Apple never initiates support by calling you first.
Apple may send notification emails, but there are also plenty of fake Apple Support emails going around, so you still have to be careful (verify that the From email address really is “@apple.com”).
If you ever need to know if there is truly an issue with your Apple ID, you can safely go to http://appleid.apple.com or http://icloud.com and log in. If there is something wrong, you will quickly be able to tell.
You do not ever need to give your credit card to Apple over the phone.
Unless you are completely new to Apple, they already have your credit card stored on file, associated with your Apple ID. This is the credit card you use for iTunes Store purchases, iCloud Storage payments, and any subscriptions you may have signed up for like Apple TV+, Apple News+, Apple Arcade, or the upcoming Apple Fitness+. You can even use this stored credit card to purchase new Apple products from the Apple Store.
Apple securely locks down your credit card information and protects it by both your Apple ID password and Two-Factor Authentication. It is only transmitted over the internet while protected by secure encryption methods. Apple even makes you cross reference your Mac login and your iPhone or iPad passcode to prove your identity when you log into a new device with your Apple ID password.
Therefore, if an “AppleCare Agent” asks for your credit card information, you are not really talking to Apple. Hang up the phone!
Know the Source!
If you receive an out-of-the-blue email, an unsolicited phone call, or an unexpected pop-up window that says you have a virus, you should immediately be suspicious of the source because you didn’t initiate the interaction. Call us or email us and we will help!!!
So if someone calls you and starts asking you for sensitive information, simply tell them you appreciate their concern and that you would like a case number and you will call them back later. No matter how urgent they make it seem, nothing has to be addressed right away. All issues can be handled in a timely manner, but only after you verify the source. Only call the official phone number for the company in question. Please do not trust the phone number that the caller gives you.
Only use official contact phone numbers or webforms.
Most importantly, please do not just do a Google search and call the first number that shows up in the results, because many of those are fake as well! Instead, simply go to the company’s official website to find their proper contact information. Many now use Contact Us forms instead of phone numbers. Then the company’s customer service will advise you of any actual issues, and be able to properly and securely help you.
Never give anyone your Social Security Number or Driver License information. Never!
Never…unless you are 100% certain you know who you are dealing with and that they have a legitimate reason to need this information. Very few places need your personal info, so if anyone asks you for it, that should immediately set off warning alarm bells in your head that something may not be right. And if the caller wants to screen share into your computer or have you hold up your I.D. in front of the computer’s webcam — don’t! Please don’t. Also, the more urgent the caller makes it seem, the more likely they are a scammer. Hang up! Call the company’s official number and inquire there.
I hope this article doesn’t scare you — online safety is spooky, and not just at Halloween! My intention really is to just remind you of the dangers out there, and to reiterate that those dangers can enter your home when you least expect it…randomly and seemingly well-intentioned.
So please be mindful, vigilant, and suspicious to a degree (but please don’t get paranoid!). To save this article as a reference, feel free to print it out and stick it on the fridge.
Also, if you feel you would like more in-depth training on how to stay safe and avoid falling victim to fake computer support phone calls, please watch my 1-hour Internet Security Concerns video course through our Royalwise OWLS program (On-demand Web-based Learning Solutions).
My name is Jamie Pollock, my company is Royalwise, and you can always find us at Royalwise.com.