I thought I was done with it. (How to Manage Being Royally Scammed)
Afterward, the week following, when the daily phone calls came, I hung up.
Except–did I mention–the funny one?
About three days after the initial hit, guy calls early morning, “Hello, this is Henry, your Apple technician. I–”
Of course I hung up on him.
Same time following morning comes a call, same voice says, “Hello, this is Harry, your Windows technician. I–”
Poor kids have so many Innocents to bilk they can’t keep things straight.
Well now after a couple of weeks a new approach. This morning’s email brought an official-looking letter from McAfee (cyber protection group), citing a charge of $382.49…plus “Tax $8.32.” Odd math.
For a moment I was fuzzled because I had indeed thought of subscribing to such a company, but my engineer grandson advised me not to waste my money.
In the letter, along with a transaction number, an invoice number, and a personal code was a phone number for “Customer Relations.” I called it intending to cancel whatever plan they said I’d made, get my money back.
Guy answers, I speak my piece, he asks if I’m on my computer now, I said, “Yes.”
He tells me to go on Google Chrome and in the Search box, type in this code. The operation is reminiscent of the one I did giving away everything there is on my iPhone. I typed, opened up a window that had two optional apps for clicking on.
Guy said, “Click on–” and I interrupted. By now I’ve recovered myself and said, “I’m not clicking on any app.” He murmured something about “the Dark Web” which of course threw a shudder into me. While he was saying “In order to get your refund it is necessary to choose one of the apps,” I clicked off.
Comforted I’d been levelheaded but still rattled, I checked my accounts and was thrilled no transaction for $382.49 had been made. Hoorah, I’d nipped it in the bud.
I went to McAfee’s website, called the real Customer Service. They’d never heard of me.
Wondering if I shouldn’t cancel the Gmail account the scammers used, I investigated options, none were practicable.
Back to cleaning up my study (the garage now is pristine, I’ve got a week to put my study to rights before Cameron returns from Peru). But first I was bound to play my morning’s game of Free Cell.
Sitting down at my iMac, what should happen again suddenly, the screen flashed and on in bold red type: “Your computer is locked! Danger! Danger! Your computer is locked!” Same as their initial hit. They were really zero’d in on me.
I shut it down.
While I waited for my computer to do whatever it had to do, trying to perk up my spirits, assume some aspect of normalcy, I texted friends to join us for supper at La Posta restaurant tomorrow night. But annoyed I wasn’t working on my study…
Booted my computer back up. Clean as a whistle, bless it.
Then a niggling thought: maybe I should subscribe to a protection plan after all. The scammers weren’t going away.
Went to Wirecutter, The New York Times bailiwick that assesses just about everything there is in life. Wirecutter said I could handle the problem myself. Should check the three credit bureaus, freeze my credit report. I was pleased I have accounts on two of the bureaus.
Called Equifax’s customer service, jumped through hoops to identify myself but got a helpful woman to freeze my credit report–since I don’t plan to buy anything for the next 100 years and thawing is simple. I was advised to place an “initial fraud alert” on Equifax which will last one year…Equifax sends it to Experian and TransUnion automatically. Nice when people are worried.
Back to putting my study in order. Taking mold-speckled cups of coffee into the kitchen…hanging up clothes…tucking socks in their drawer…sorting papers…putting books back on shelves…arranging tchotchkes, at this point the mundane was refreshing and welcome.
The scammers are so sophisticated. And, yes, I guess, hungry.
I wonder where they are on this planet. Down the street? Middle of nowhere? Do they sleep in beds at night? I feel for them, desperate as they are…
Anyway. At my age, I’m grateful for having been put through this particular mill because it brings me down to the real world.
(I live in a sort of happy ether.)
Ah, hey, kids, are your credit reports frozen? just in case?