Jim Fisher

Have I told you guys that I love getting emails from you? Especially when those emails ask a question that I can turn into an article at a time when I’m struggling to come up with an interesting article? Well, I love getting emails from you so keep them coming.

I received one from “Linette” last week that is worth discussing. She asked, “I got a call from so-called: “PC Matic” saying that I had service with them… and yadda, yadda, yadda. I have never had service with them, so assume it was a scam. Said I had a refund, but I had to cancel, or my card would be charged $299.99. Refund was supposed to be $249.99. They wanted to send something to my computer, so I refused and told them to take my name off their list.”

This particular scammer was a bit bold; they actually said they were with PC Matic (which is a horrible antivirus program but that’s beside the point). Most scammers would have claimed (in bad English), “I’m with your antivirus company . . .” The victim may say something along the lines of, “Do you mean Norton (or McAfee or Microsoft)?” and the scammers would latch onto that and “confirm” they were with said company.

Linette was justified in being skeptical of anyone wanting to hand over free money. If she had fallen for the scam, she would have been asked to provide credit card or bank account credentials or some other creative way to allow the scammer to help themselves to her money. She may have been asked to pay a “processing fee” up front that she would never see again. This is called an “advanced fee” scam. Either way, this situation had “scam” all over it.

Speaking of advance fee scams, it’s tax refund season. That means many of you will receive calls or emails from the IRS claiming that you have a large refund awaiting you. All you have to do is send them your bank, credit card information, or pay a “processing fee” in exchange for a large refund. You have no been warned. Don’t fall for it.

Please remember that even if you are a victim of one of these scams, your bank is required to refund your money and credit card companies will almost always reverse the charges, but if you send the scammers a gift card, you can kiss that money goodbye.

No one is immune to these scams, not even me. But as usual, our older folks are the primary victims. Their brains just don’t detect fraud in the same way that younger people do, so they will need a little help. If you know someone who fits the description, please let them know you are there for them. I absolutely don’t mind being your first line of defense during office hours (don’t interrupt my evening beer time, please). So call me if you have questions. But if you think you need to call me, it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam.

Jim Fisher owns Excel Computer Services in Florence. Reach him at www.ExcelAL.com