Eva Lamm-Ruben: Beware of pop-up scams
You are constantly told to be aware of spam emails and phone calls saying that they need additional information, but I feel that there is little awareness of pop-ups. That is why I want to give you an example of how scammers can operate and how I became a victim.
Recently, I got a pop-up, which appeared to come from Norton Security asking if I wanted to upgrade to their Premium program from the current program in which I was currently enrolled. I have been offered upgrades from other companies whose programs I have on my computer. Norton did not warn me that this might be spam. According to the pop-up, there would be no charge until the renewal came due so I accepted the offer.
A couple of days later I received an email in my spam folder confirming my order and a bill. It said that “we have processed the payment of amount $299.99 for the renewal of your security and services and it will reflect in your bank statement in the next 24 working hours. If you wish to cancel this renewal process please call us immediately at Support Helpline : +1 (802)528-7944.”
Recalling that I had accepted the offer and that there would be no charge until my automatic payment extended Norton for another year, I replied to the email. I was not thinking I was dealing with a scam.
Working with the scammers and following their directions, they did get into my bank accounts, transferred funds from one account to another and made it appear that I owed them $4,500. Once I saw the amount in my checking account, they had me buy Best Buy Gift Cards, read them the activation codes, then destroy the cards as I could no longer be able to use them.
What did I learn from this very expensive experience? How scammers can play with your mind.
First, beware of any offers you may receive. It is hard to spot whether they come from the company that it looks like is making the offer or that it is a scam. The pop-up I received looked like it came from Norton. I did not see anything strange.
As I occasionally find non-spam emails in my spam folder, when I looked in my spam folder and saw an email saying “Confirmation,” I was not thinking spam even though it was marked as spam.
Last week I got another communication from Norton for payment to renew my subscription and a few days later got an email similar to the first one from the same scanners.
Clues that it is spam: The email address doesn’t look correct. Notice errors in the contents of the email. They ask for an immediate response as they want the funds immediately.
Should this happen to you, do not reply to the email. Immediately notify your bank, your local police department, the FTC, the FBI, the company that the scammers claimed they represented, the gift card company, the credit card companies for which you have credit cards, the credit bureaus, and anyone else that you feel should know.
Eva Lamm-Ruben lives in Nevada City.
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