Scammers rarely miss an opportunity to take advantage of an innocent victim, and right now they’re using the recent WannaCry Ransomware attacks as a ruse to scam as many folks as possible.
To be sure, WannaCry is a very serious malware issue, but it’s important not to fall victim to the scams that are out there taking advantage of it right now.
The most common WannaCry related scam works something like this:
You’re browsing the Internet like you always do when a little box pops up telling you that your machine has been infected with the WannaCry ransomware virus. It goes on to say that you need to call “Microsoft Tech Support” at the phone number listed in the message.
The problem is, if you call that number you won’t be calling “Microsoft Tech Support” at all. Instead, you’ll be calling a scammer who will try to talk you into letting him remotely take control of your computer in order to remove the ransomware.
If you agree to grant him remote access to your PC he’ll be able to do anything he wants to it, including view (and steal) your private personal and financial information and photos. And while he’s on on there he’ll probably go ahead and plant a real trojan horse virus so he’ll be able to access your computer any time he wants.
In most cases the scammer will end his illicit session with your computer by installing some piece of software that’s supposed to remove the WannaCry ransomware virus. Depending on the scammer’s preferred method, this software could be anything from a benign (but useless) piece of software to yet another virus.
After he has finished ravaging your computer, the scammer will attempt to charge you a hefty for providing the “service”. If you agree to pay the fee, the scammer will end up with your credit card or bank information even if he was unable to find it on your computer.
As you can see, this is a very insidious scam. And unfortunately, it’s a very easy scam to fall for.
If one of these messages ever pops up while you’re using your computer, don’t interact with the message in any way. Instead, close your browser immediately.
However, don’t try to close your browser in the usual manner by clicking the little X in the top corner of the window because that probably won’t work. Instead, close it by following the steps below:
1 – Right-click on the taskbar and click Task Manager to launch the Task Manager utility. You should now see a list of currently running apps.
2 – Right-click on the name of your browser and click End task. (Note: You might need to do this several times to get your browser to disappear from the list of running apps.)
Bonus tip: I strongly recommend that you practice closing apps this way until you can remember how to do it without needing instructions. Why? Because you won’t be able to Google these instructions once you receive the pop-up message.
This is a very simple two-step process but it could come in very handy at some point in the future. And now, back to the task at hand…
3 – Finally, just to be safe you should run the malware scans listed in this post to remove any malware that might have made its way onto your computer.
Bottom line: Never click any links or call any phone numbers listed in a pop-up message.
And always remember this…
Microsoft and Apple will never call you or make a message pop up telling you that your computer has a virus. You will ALWAYS have to contact them first if you need tech support assistance. That’s just the way those companies operate.
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