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Scam of the Month: The Case of Tech Support Impostors

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Con artists call the newsroom, too. In the past few weeks, two employees and an intern all got calls from someone alerting them to supposed problems with their computers.

The caller ID displayed “Microsoft ATTN” as Denton Record-Chronicle reporter Britney Tabor picked up the phone at her desk recently. The man on the other end tried to convince her there was a problem with her personal computer.

Ever the fact checker, Britney soon had the scammer on the ropes: He didn’t sound like anyone from the company’s knowledgeable IT department, he had called her at work to ask about her home computer, and he was ready to fix a Windows problem when she has a Mac.

The scammer ended the call quickly.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, these calls are the latest twist on long-running tech support scams. The con artists get your name and phone number from public directories and make a guess at the equipment and software you’re using.

Caller ID spoofing, as happened in Britney’s case, makes it seem the caller is part of a well-known company. Or they’ll opt to barrage you with technical terms, trying to get you in front of your computer to perform a series of tasks designed to scare you.

From the FTC, some warning signs that a call is a scam designed to get your money:

They ask for remote access to your computer (and then they make changes that leave your computer vulnerable to hacking).

They try to keep you on the phone and use high-pressure tactics.

They offer a computer maintenance or warranty program that’s worthless.

They ask for your credit card information to bill you for these phony services or direct you to websites that do the same.

They trick you into installing malware designed to steal sensitive data, like user names and passwords.

What to do if you get a call:

Never give control of your computer, provide your credit card or other financial information to someone who calls you out of the blue.

Never give your password on the phone.

Because spoofing is so prevalent, don’t rely on caller ID to authenticate a caller. Nor are online searches always reliable. Scammers place online ads and pay to boost their rankings so they come up higher in search results than legitimate companies. Hang up and call the company yourself on a phone number you know to be genuine. You can find a company’s contact information on their software package or on your receipt.

If you think you’ve been scammed, don’t panic:

Change your password. If you use that password for other accounts, change those passwords, too.

You can get rid of malware on your computer. It takes time, but it isn’t difficult. Update or download legitimate security software and scan your computer for suspicious files. Follow the steps to delete anything it identifies as a problem.

Call your credit card provider if you agreed to pay for the phony services with your credit card and ask for them to be reversed. Watch your bank statements carefully for any other bogus charges, and ask to reverse those, too.

— Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe

http://www.dentonrc.com/local-news/local-news-headlines/20161001-scam-of-the-month-the-case-of-tech-support-impostors.ece

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    • Live: Chinese officials brief the media on novel coronavirus control   Asymptomatic man infects 14 medics with coronavirus. They are calling him "超级传播者" (Super-spreader), he took more than 15 days to start feeling symptoms, even though he was able to infect the doctors and nurses. In 12/25/2019 Zhao, 69, was admitted to the Union Hospital of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan. He was suffering from pituitary tumors, he didn't have a very good cardiac function, coronary heart disease, sinus bradycardia and other illnesses. He stayed in the hospitals for 12 days for preoperative examination and evaluation (until January 6th). Before the brain surgery, he had no respiratory symptoms, normal body temperature, normal white blood cell and lymphocyte values. Preoperative x-rays showed he had some shadows on his left rib cage due to a long history of smoking. He was full of gas, good mental state, the doctors didn't have any reason to doubt he had an sort of viral pneumonia. December 30, 2019 the hospital received an internal notice about cases of pneumonia of unknown causes and January 7th, 2020 the hospital staff started wearing protection clothes. Zhao's surgery was done January 8th during the morning, it was done successfully and the patient was in stable conditions. January 9th the hospital was informed that the unknown cause of pneumonia was a virus called coronavirus. But Zhao didn't have any symptom whatsoever. January 11th Zhao suddenly got fever, but it was extremely difficult to determine the clinical reason since he made an cranial surgery, it could be changes in the body's stress, cerebral vascular irritation, changes in intracranial pressure... Meanwhile a neurosurgeon issued a lung CT scan, image display showed multiple lung opacities sheet with right pleural effusion, interstitial pneumonia. Significant pulmonary infection performance has emerged. Also, leukocytes increased significantly, elevated neutrophils, lymphocytes low, these changes are not typical virus infection. Doctor immediately reported the case and specialists did RNA tests confirming the patient got the virus and infected 14 people from the hospital staff. He was classified as "Super Spreader", that's when a person infects a large amount of people. The hospital doesn't know how many people were infected by the patient and the staff since hundreds of patients, medics and students go to that hospital daily and as observed the infected person might take 15 days to feel symptoms, but can infect others even before the symptoms appear. Source: China Press    
    • If half your international workers are down with the flu (I'm "just" going off the flu symptoms here)... your company grinds to a halt. What worries me is that the world's increasingly-interdependent medical goods supply chains operate very leanly and with comparatively lower stockpiles than we used to. And any given country, the US for example, is less self-sufficient than ever before (in terms of established supply chains currently in use). So any major disruption in the production and global distribution of medical goods will be very readily felt by hospitals. And no one is prepared for that with adequate contingencies in place. Huge amounts of basic medical supplies are manufactured in Asia. China- masks, PPE, some fluid/ fluid bags, scapals/ instruments, wound dressings, IV machines/ mobile xray/ other machines; South America- Certain IV fluids, medications, some anti viral/ antibiotic meds; India- outer protection bag that some IV fluids are packed in If the supply chain were to be interupted- at any point in the world where medical equipment is produced- that is almost unfathomable. Germany gets 80% of it's pharmacies from foreign countries, most of it from China and India...... Outsourcing (globalizing) medicine is a disaster recipipe beyond pandemics, when you actively make yourself dependent.
    • China's CDC report says Coronavirus "has higher pandemic risk than SARS" | Can be transmitted without symptoms within incubation period [from renowned Harvard scientist Dr. Eric Ding] About 100,000 people could be infected with the new coronavirus around the world, experts have warned, as the UK government faced calls to reassure people that the NHS is ready to deal with any British cases within days. In spite of the rigorous containment measures China has taken, its ban on flights and the UK checks on travellers from China at Heathrow, experts say it is only a matter of time until there is a case in the UK, given the ease with which the new coronavirus is now believed to pass from one person to another - possibly transmitted by people with mild or even no symptoms at all. Secondly, there are reports from China of people who have infected others before they have experienced any symptoms.
    • Dr. Liang Wudong, a surgeon who was treating patients in Wuhan, become the first doctor to die from the new Coronavirus at Hubei Xinhua Hospital. A reminder that while everyone else is trying to avoid it, frontline medical staff are risking their lives to cure it and help others.
    • Rumour from Wuhan that at one hospital over 70 patients died in just one hour This post says someone working in a hospital in Wuhan said that all the doctors and nurses of two departments died within 3 hours, and that over 70 died within one hour in No. 5 hospital last night.     Date unknown. Rough translation of the chat (from SleepyKitto on the discord server): White: I just got through my comrade's office line W: He wailed and told me no one left from the two departments within 3 hours W: All dead W: Last night 70 something patients died in Wuhan Fifith Hospital within an hour Green: Were those doctors? W: DO NOT take this lightly W: Doctors, nurses W: Whole section department, no one left G: My god, where are the resrouces? G: (where is) the Government?
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