In recent months, there has been a shocking surge in “phantom hacker” phone scams across the United States, as reported by the FBI. This alarming trend primarily targets senior citizens, with a staggering 66% of the 19,000 reported victims being over the age of sixty, resulting in a collective loss of $542 million within just the first half of 2023. The perpetrators of these scams employ a cunning three-step approach to deceive their victims and make off with their hard-earned money.
How the Scam Works:
Firstly, a fraudster posing as a legitimate tech support representative contacts unsuspecting individuals through phone calls, texts, or emails. They claim to be offering assistance in safeguarding the victim’s savings and coerce them into downloading seemingly helpful software. However, this software serves as a gateway for the scammer to infiltrate the victim’s device.
Following this, the scammer manipulates the victim by asserting that a virus has infected their computer. They then instruct the victim to access their financial accounts to check for any unauthorized transactions. While no real threat exists at this point, the scammer’s intention is to create a sense of urgency and panic.
In the final step, the victim receives a call from another member of the scamming team, posing as a bank representative. This imposter advises the victim to transfer their funds to a supposedly secure “third-party account” to protect their money from the alleged hackers. Tragically, the victims, in an attempt to protect their savings, unwittingly transfer their money directly into the hands of the scammers.
To avoid falling victim to these malicious schemes, it is crucial to follow some simple guidelines:
- Avoid Downloading Software from Unknown Sources: Never download software recommended by unknown individuals, especially over the phone or email.
- Exercise Caution Online: Do not click on pop-ups or open links from unverified sources. These can often lead to malicious websites or downloads.
- Be Skeptical of Unknown Callers: Refrain from returning calls to unfamiliar numbers. Scammers often use different numbers to deceive their targets.
- Protect Your Computer Access: Do not allow anyone, especially strangers, to gain access to your computer remotely.
What to Do if You Suspect a Scam:
If you believe you have been targeted by a scam, it is imperative to act swiftly. The FBI urges victims to report any relevant information on their website. By promptly reporting these incidents, individuals can assist law enforcement agencies in their efforts to shut down these scams and bring the perpetrators to justice.
In the face of this growing threat, it is essential to prioritize online safety. If you fear your computer may have been compromised, consult a local computer consulting or repair company like Computer Technologies And More located at 394 West Main St. Hendersonville, TN 37075, reachable at 615-988-1156. They can inspect your device, clean it, and advise you on the necessary software to keep you secure on the internet. Additionally, they offer technology training to help you stay safe and protect yourself online.
Remember, staying vigilant and informed is key to protecting yourself from cyber threats. Stay safe and secure online!