Scams, Spams, Frauds and Hacks….Oh My!

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Recently there have been more and more alarming stories about scams, spams, frauds and hacks through the internet.  As business owners who do a large part of our marketing through our websites with internet marketing and social media marketing, it is our responsibility to try to be aware of what is happening on the internet and how to protect ourselves.

This can be overwhelming, daunting and time consuming.  There are multiple sites that list scams and where scams can be reported.  There are also Forums where you can share your experiences.

These are 3 scams I know of that have been circulating around and can cause huge problems for businesses.

1.   The Microsoft/Windows Scam:

“Someone” from Windows/Microsoft calls to say they have detected suspicious activity and virus’s on your computer.  They provide a URL that you are to type into your browser.  When you do, they remotely access your computer and upload a “virus software” that is actually a spybot that starts busily gathering all your information off your hard drive.  And it arbitrarily removes your own virus software to make your computer vulnerable.  As well, they offer their “repairs” for free until they install the offending software which mucks up your computer so bad that you can’t operate it and then they offer to remove the problem for a fee!

This happened a few months ago to my friend.  Thankfully, I had been doing “remote” stuff with her on her computer and as soon as she saw them take control of her mouse she knew what was happening and quickly shut down her computer until I got there to go into “Safe” mode on her computer and remove the offending upload so they couldn’t grab all her information.

This can have a catastrophic effect on any person who uses their computer for business – not only does all their information get hacked but it makes the computer unuseable until a “techie” can come in to fix it which costs huge or they fall for this whole scheme and have to pay the hacker to fix the problems.

2.     The Online Product Purchase Scam:

A Virtual Assistant I know who operates out of Australia reported that she was very pleased that one of her information products had sold bulk copies to someone who went to her website for the purchase.  She processed the payment – it was approved – and she promptly shipped out the items.  Then the credit card company came back to her with the news that the credit card had been stolen and, therefore, the purchase had been reversed.  She received no money, incurred the cost of shipping the products out (which weren’t returned) and she had no recourse to recoup her financial loss.

3.     The Phishing for Cell Numbers Scam:

I have a cell phone like most do.  At the time this incident happened my cell only had a number, a 250 minute plan, no texting and no internet.  There are many pop-ups that come to you on the internet where they offer “free” stuff or contests BUT you have to enter your cell number.  I ran into one of these several years ago and suddenly started receiving multiple text messages that they charged for and which Rogers (my provider) passed on to me.  I had Rogers reverse all after a long and lengthy fight so I never entered my cell number again.

HOWEVER, recently I started receiving all these text messages again when I had entered my cell number in NO WINDOW or POP-UP  I couldn’t figure out how they got my cell number until I thought it through.  There must be “data miners” out there who go to websites where we, as businesses, post all our contact information including cell numbers for our clients.  These “data miners” are going out into the internet and collecting these numbers and SELLING THEM to third party text messaging companies.  I had messages coming from 3 such third party messaging companies.  The cost to me for not even sharing my cell number:  $120 in 2 months.  Rogers must collect those fees and pass them on to those disgusting 3rd party companies.  When I called Rogers they tried to block text messages to my phone (I didn’t have texting anyway) but that didn’t work.  They looked in their records on my account and found the names of these 3rd Party providers and gave me their phone numbers whereby I contacted them and demanded they remove my number from their records.  It was a very long, time consuming fight and I had to call more than once but eventually when I pushed hard enough and asked to be escalated through many managers, I got a refund mailed to me by cheque.

What do you do if you have been scammed or “suspect” it may be a scam?

Here are a few suggestions offered from some of my alliances:

Courtesy of Karen Braschuk of Office Support 911:

There are  great places to report these calls/scams – special websites set up for exactly this purpose. If you Google a phone number from an annoying or suspicious caller, it’s likely there will a ton of others who have reported it as well.My two most trusted websites are:

Every time I receive a call from an unknown caller, I check that number in
both of these places first. Sure enough, I usually find a slew of
information, in particular, “This is Microsoft just calling to make sure
your computer is secure” scam.

Be safe. An unsolicited call from anyone requires great care in how you


– Confirm your mailing/physical address

– Confirm your phone number

– Confirm your name

– Confirm your email address

– Confirm your password

– Confirm that you are a user of a particular service


– Ask them to identify themselves

– Ask why they are calling

– Ask for a call-back number

– Ask how they got your number

– Ask for their website or yellow pages listing

From Sandra Fénelon, Project Manager & Consultant at Sole Mia Concepts:
If you have some facts that you can provide to the Canadian Anti-Fraud
Centre (CAFC), they can investigate the situation. However, I am not sure
what happens to the cases that have been reported. Here¹s their phone number
and email address:

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC)
1 (888) 495-8501

Be alert, be aware and share your experiences with others.

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