Adult children who support aging parents and their personal computers need to be aware of a threat that can pop up on a computer anytime and cause major problems if a person does not understand how to handle the threat. Our parents need to hear about this potential problem.
The other day I was working on my computer, visiting the website of a noted author, when suddenly my screen turned to white and a voice repeated over and over that I had a virus.The recorded voice told me to use a telephone number that I was to call immediately to get my computer fixed. I hadn’t opened any attachment and, I was not visiting any questionable or unsavory website.
Now I am a technology geek. I’ve trained students and teachers on technology and curriculum topics for years. My computers and devices are all well-protected. But this message scared me, and even with all my training and experience, I kept rereading the message and wondering what to do. And that voice kept repeating the message…
To make matters worse, there was no way to close the window to go get rid of the message or the recorded voice.
After I took a deep breath, I realized that, of course this was a scam — a deceptive warning that was attempting to get me to call the 800 telephone number and share my information. Worse still it was trying to get me to call and give enough information to allow a scammer to gain access to my computer. After thinking this through — it took about 30 seconds — I shut down the browser and opened it again, but the window was still there when I reopened the browser. So I shut down my browser, and then I shut down my computer and restarted it. The point is, even with all of my digital world experience, I was taken aback by the odious message and initially unsure of what to do.
After I restarted the computer, I ran my virus program, in my case Kaspersky Internet Security, and the scan found nothing wrong. Then I ran the Malware Bytes program to look for adware or malware. Again no problems.
I back-up my computer on a regular basis. Everyone should. If the scam had been a type of ransomeware and demanded that I call a telephone number, I would have had the extra security of my back-up in addition to my anti-virus software (so I could restore the back-up).
The bottom line for all of us and our aging parents? Don’t click and don’t call. Be on the lookout for these messages and do not assume anything is wrong. This is not unlike the grandparent scam that I wrote about several months ago — the goal of each is to make a person doubtful enough that they follow through with the scammer’s instructions.
Some of Past AsOurParentsAge Posts on Fraud that Takes Advantage of Aging Adults