Pitt experiences hi-tech skulduggery
By Roger Pitt
Ignorance is not bliss, contrary to what you may have heard.
It is no excuse either, you often learn when complaining, or making an excuse for a mistake.
Guilty on both counts after my computer being hacked and a scam.
Frustration over several months of interruptions and delays getting into my email provider, which connects me with the Internet, contributed to a dilemma last week that invokes another old cliche: “Act in haste, repent in leisure.”
Each time there was a lengthy pause to the Internet connection, the message ‘an error was detected’ popped up with an option to learn the cause for the delay.
Checking ‘no’ made the message disappear and the connection would soon be completed. It was routinely closed. After several incidents a robo-call, identifying the software provider, had a similar message, which was immediately hung up.
Monday a call with a similar introduction mentioning the provider of the software had a “real” person on the line. Instead of following my instincts, and practice, of hanging up on “no call list” violations, frustration got the best of me and engaged in conversation.
By the time the call was completed, more than an hour later, I had given personal data and allowed remote access to my computer, which he convinced me to leave on, because removing the numerous errors he had displayed on screen would take time to eliminate.
The following morning the screen was active with data and a graph displayed. Several hours later similar items were still being displayed.
Another phone call at a scheduled time on Tuesday, was to explain options on paying for the service – something I expected. The cost was reasonable for the expected result as were options for annual updates.
(The “fix” to my computer was still in progress nearly 24 hours later.)
Giving my credit card number to the caller was returned several minutes later, saying it was necessary to make the payment by PayPal, a service widely used in seller/buyer deals over the Internet. He typed the information in the form displayed on my screen and it was entered.
About 15 minutes later a woman from PayPal called, asked several questions about the transaction and how the data was entered on the form.
“I think you have been scammed,” she said, immediately engaging my panic mode.
The first reaction was for her to negate the transaction.
The next was to call my credit card firm and contact the fraud department to stop payment, which was in their system pending payment.
Wednesday, another call questioned why the payment had been stopped. He disputed it was a scam and after a lengthy debate left a dead line that disconnected several minutes later.
Instincts that should have been red flags: His dialect was typically of those from India, common with most calls about issues involving computers. The first call he said he was in New York, while two days later his response was “Kentucky.”
Remote access to my computer was stopped immediately after the possible scam on the payment.
Trying to access my computer repeatedly stopped with only 35 percent of the soft ware, the brain of the system, entered.
Finally, I did what should have been my first option, I called my local computer guru, Nate, who runs his own business. Nate had another service call, but stopped en route and three hours later, when returning home, there was a note on my computer, “Call Nate!”
He described what was on the screen and instructed me to push the enter key.
“Your computer was a mess. It definitely had been hacked and it was probably a scam. Making the fix was going to take about an hour and it was something you could do,” Nate said.
Thankfully it required pushing one key. Nate knows computers befuddle me and, simple directions require a guide to interpret terminology which is a foreign language to me.
The experience was damaging to my ego. Not only was the fact of being had – not once but twice – because frustration and panic had such influence over my actions.
There is “no fool, like an old fool.”