Since the internet was first conceived in the 1960s, it has served as a powerful tool for communications, networking and logistics. Unfortunately, it has also provided criminals and other crooks more ways (and easier ways) to commit their evil deeds. There are many internet crimes which could negatively affect a business or nonprofit organization, such as fraud, digital theft due to hacking, DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) Attacks, etc…
In this post, I present two common internet scams that scammers use to prey on potential victims.
Tech Support Scams
1 common technique that internet scammers employ is the classic “Microsoft Technical Support” scam. Scammers have attempted this on my clients, my friends, and even on me.
The stories are always similar: You get a phone call from someone claiming to be with “Microsoft Tech Support” and the caller says that you have a virus on your computer. The caller then asks you to perform some steps in order to allow him to connect to your PC remotely. Once logged into your computer remotely, the caller will claim that he is fixing whatever the problem is.
A common technique these scammers will employ is asking you to type “Prefetch” into the “Start -> Run” as was the case when I received one of these phone calls a few months ago. The caller will then go on to explain that what is listed in “Prefetch” are items that slow your computer down, and that this needs to be fixed (hence why the caller “needs” to login to your computer remotely to “fix” the problem).
My Advice: Do not allow anyone who calls you access to your computer (and don’t give anyone your password to anything), unless you are absolutely certain that the person on the other end can be trusted (unless you know what you’re doing, and you want to scam the scammer, as I have done in the past).
Domain Name Registration Scams
Unlike the technical support scam I described, the Domain Name Registration (or Renewal) Scams are often times carried out without the use of a computer. The technique is simple: Using publicly available information tied to a domain name, the scammer will send a physical letter in the mail to a domain registrant.
The letter often times includes an ominous warning that your domain name is going to expire, and it includes a form to fill out your payment information so that the domain name won’t expire. The catch? The companies (scammers) behind these mailings simply want your business.
Don’t fall for them! While these mailings may be legal, they don’t do any good. Your domain name registrar (such as Namecheap or Network Solutions) will almost always communicate with you via email address – not via snail mail. These days, all financial transactions can be safely handled online.
Furthermore, the prices that these companies charge are more expensive than what your real domain registrar charges.
My Advice: Never respond to paper mailings related to the financial matters of business you conduct online. Domain names are registered electronically through domain name registrars and you should manage everything related to your domain name on that domain name registrar’s website.
What internet scams have you seen?