Scam Alert: Fix My PC

scamalertOver the past few weeks, I’ve gotten a few calls from a notorious scammer from 800.843.0000. (DO NOT CALL THIS NUMBER IT IS A SCAM)

Now this scammer thinks I’m going to go over to my computer and give him access so he can steal my financial information. I don’t think so!

When I ask him for more information, he just repeats the same thing over and over again (as do I!)

blah_blah

Sir, please go to your computer, so I can help you remove the virus from your computer“.

So I ask him: “Which computer?”, to which he replies.. “Your personal computer“..

So I tell him “I have multiple computers, which one?”..

he replies “the one you are in front of

I say: “But I’m on my phone and not in front of my computer

He says: “Sir this is deep support (no relation to deep throat I assume), and we have noticed that your computer has a virus and we would like to help you”.

I say: “which computer???”

We volley back and forth for a few minutes and finally I just hang up on the creep!

I’ve hung up on this guy a few times already.. but he just seems to love to call Dad’s Taxi and waste my time when I’m busy..

So next time, I’m going to have some fun and ask him to let me log into his computer so I can help him remove the virus on his machine? What do you think of that plan?

Since I have an evil streak: Next time they call me, I’ll tell the scammer  that I”ve been testing some nasty viruses on my machine and them calling me might have infected their computer via the SIP protocol (thank to my friend Mark W. for this one). Continue and harass them and reverse the call on them to ask if their computer has slowed down and they need to remove these nasty viruses simultaneously. otherwise their disk will crash!.. Won’t that be fun!

Ok.. so how do you defend yourself from these scammer’s and spammers?

  • Be alert.. No “Geek team” or “high tier support” will call you without proper knowledge.
  • Do not cooperate even if you think you do have malware or a virus on any of your computers.. If you have a Mac you are inherently protected.
  • Hang up.
  • List all your phone numbers  on the National Do Not Call Registry (Register All your numbers: Mobile/VOIP, etc..). You will have to provide an email address for verification purposes.
  • Follow the directions (You will have to certify your numbers with a valid email)

Just for jollies see how many others have been calling with the same numbers with the various variations on the scam by calling who is calling me via the directory of unlisted callers (NO this will not give you a virus or malware.. it’s a legitimate site!)

You will see that there are various spins on these scam calls. I particularly love the “IRS” one.. that is bound to work on the elderly.. or the ones that are gullible.

irscamNow excuse me as I just got a call  I need to get back to that guy who has issued a warrant for my arrest and is from the IRS. Because I really don’t want to get arrested by the Sheriff for being stupid and being scammed.. right?

Don’t get scammed! always be alert!

Direct Buy – Are you a member?

A few weeks ago, I received a nondescript bulk mail saying this was my last chance to get a free “Microsoft computer or touchpad”. I was in jeopardy of losing out on this great deal! So instinctively I called the phone number on this mailer as I did not want to lose out on the deal of a lifetime. Everyone that knows my mantra, “If it’s free, it’s for me“.

This mailer was of course for a DirectBuy sales pitch presentation in Edison NJ.. Here’s my review of my visit..Of course your mileage may vary and all that legalese.

Today my wife and I went to a Direct Buy Showroom in Edison NJ. We were drawn in by the promise of a “voucher” for a laptop/netbook or touchpad. Of course to get this you have to endure an hour and 45 minute presentation and the gratuitous heavy sales pitch. Even after knowing of this up front, I convinced my wife to go with you to check it out. Hey  my wife and I had some time to kill on a Friday night and how bad could it be? BTW, those are famous last words that have haunted me in many situations in my life..

Of course even before the date of the presentation, you speak to a really nice agent, who assures you that you are not going to be pressured to buy anything.. They just want to provide a presentation.. yeah right..

Direct Buy is a catalog shopping/ordering showroom where a sales rep from DirectBuy helps you order everything for your home (Except Computers) at wholesale or “manufacturer’s prices”.  Sounds good right? Here’s the catch.. The Membership fee is outrageous. The membership fee is almost $6,000 for a period of 5 years and $190 for each year for years 6 – 10.

Why is the membership fee is so high?

How do you get the best value for this $6K membership?

First you get your “guide” who tells you how much you can save for about half hour and then you get the other “Peter” who  spends over an hour talking about DirectBuy and how much you have to be a member of this buying service by showing videos of some low-level TV starts to show how great DirectBuy is for your home purchases. During the presentation, me being the skeptic was googling on my smart phone, reviews of the DirectBuy experience.  I personally felt some level of brain washing going on during these videos which automatically turned me off. Many say DirectBuy is a scam, but I don’t think it is. That is if you can afford this expense in your life!

In my opinion, this is a great deal if you have major renovations in your home (Kitchen, floors, windows, furniture) over a short period of time, you can recover your 6K membership fee in the savings you get from the wholesale prices. If you are not planning on this.. you are in for sticker shock at the membership price! Membership is truly a case of “use it or lose it” with your finances.

In my opinion:

DirectBuy is  simply mathematics and economics. If you USE the Direct Busy service for major home purchase for a repeated period of time (5 years)  you will save money. If you don’t, you will lose money!

Of course the heavy sales tactics is in play once you finish your “presentation time”.  As soon as we said “NO” to our guide (“The Other Peter”).. he promptly got up without even a word and  opened the entrance to the showroom door for us to leave the premises.. No “have a nice day”, just opened the door and was escorting us out of the presentation.. I felt cheated and angered at the same time. Needless to say, I won’t be part of this happy place as a paying member anytime soon. We had to remind “Peter” that we were here with the Gift and he acted like he knew nothing of this.. hmm. He stormed behind the desk and reluctantly gave us the voucher for the laptop or the TouchPad..and gave us a nod and looked the other way as we left the showroom..

Now onto the process to get the “freebie”:

Even the procedure to get this freebie using the voucher is beyond belief.

Go online with your “authorization number” on a non-Secure site and activate your voucher! The site you go to is nondescript and you are not in a secure HTTPS environment!

Follow these steps exactly or you don’t get the gift and nothing is refundable:

Print out an “activation claim Form and within 5 days send it to “Electronic Claim Center”.

  • Send in the form with the voucher, proof of ID in a certified self-addressed envelope within 5 days of printing out the activation
  • Then you will get back a “certificate”  with which you pay an activation” fee and plus pay shipping and handling via Money Order (Right Money Order Only!)and within 2 to 4 weeks you may or may not get your laptop or your tablet.

Somehow the whole process above sounds fishy to me.. I don’t think I’ll bite on this bait… What is to prevent this company from my using to perpetuate credit fraud since now they have my license!

I gotta admit that this whole experience left me annoyed to say the least. Why would I do all of the above when I could go on-line and get a tablet for less than $100? Thanks but no thanks.. Not gonna do this..

If I ever need to have a bare home and need furnish every room and want to save hundreds of dollars on thing I absolutely need, DirectBuy will easily cover the heavy 3 or 5 year membership fee. Otherwise.. I’ll take a pass on this offer!

Oh by the way.. don’t forget the secretive nature of DirectBuy.. They constantly tell during the presentation that you are part of the secret society that knows bargains and you should not tell any retailer that you are a member of DirectBuy.. This is actually the line that was said during the video presentation and by the presenter!

What’s your experience with DirectBuy?

What I learned is that If I want an affordable discount I can still rely on my $50 membership to Costco to give me the best value bang for my buck!

  • I don’t need to increase my debt to savings ratio by going into instant debt by the membership fee nor the instant billing that occurs when you buy from this membership only club.
  • I don’t want to pay thousands of dollars in upfront membership fees if I don’t plan on having large home purchases..
  • I like to touch and feel my purchases, and not buy from a catalogue.
  • I don’t want to be a member of a secret society of shoppers that pay for the price of secrecy..

I could go on and on… but I think you get my point.

Scambusters

Today with the way technology is proceeding at a breakneck speed, we are all inundated with offers either via email, telephone or by on-line malware. This post talks about some tips to avoid being scammed. In today’s of technology overload, you are your own last line of defense against spam, phishing, malware, virus’s, and any web born aggrevation.

Hmm, do I sound like someone who has gone down this path?

To battle the scourge of being scammed or having your identity stolen, here are a couple of really good sites which help you follow up on this ageless motto:

“If it sounds too good to be true, it absolutely is”.

  1. Scambusters – Check out questionable offers
  2. Scam – On-line community forums

Some tips to avoid being scammed or having your identity stolen (my list of on-line NO-NO’s):

  • Don’t open ANY emails that look suspicious (No you have not won $5M in the European Union’s lottery that you never entered)
  • Don’t confirm any personal information via email – NO valid financial institution will ask you for your pin code to “confirm” your identity.
  • Never ever give your credit card number to anyone on the phone, if you have any doubt of  who the caller is. I encountered this when I kept on getting “restricted” calls from the Policemen’s fund raiser on my home phone. As soon as you ask for proof of identity or email confirmation, the phone line mysteriously goes dead….
  • Make sure your Antivirus, hardware/software firewall, spyware blocker, anti-phishing (browser) addons for Firefox or IE are updated. If this sounds like I’m over-protected, I’m not. Even with all of the above, I’ve seen many of these villans attack my machines at home. So in order to protect yourself, you need to have a combinations. I’ve used both McAfee and Norton. These days I lean towards McAfee, only because, it’s provided free by most web providers (Comcast, Optimum, etc…). I’v also stopped using IE all together and only use Firefox on all my machines.
  • Make sure you disable Pop-Ups (this is how how I caught the dreaded “Your machine has a virus, you need to purchase ….”  virus). You can always enable or override with simple keystrokes.
  • Do not accept any invitation/messages  from anyone that you do not know on social networking sites.  Yes that means me, a noted Facebook and LinkedIn fanatic.
  • Do not accept an invitation : When you get an invite from someone that you have no clue to be your “friend” on your instant messager client (cindyfunxx38  is not your friend)

Overall, I can safely say: “If you encounter stangers bearing gifts, you can almost be assured that you will be given a gift that will last for a lifetime”.

If you know of any additional scambuster sites, leave me a comment.