There’s is nothing like answering the phone and being greeted by a bunch of expletives!
It all started with my mom getting a phone call. When she called me to relay the message, I took it with a grain of salt. Since she has Alzheimer’s, I’m never quite sure how accurate the information is going to be. So, when she called and said, “Someone is saying that my electric bill isn’t paid,” I wasn’t sure if it was a telemarketer or a scammer trying to get her money.
I pay her bills, so I know the bill was paid. Thankfully, she wrote down the phone number, so I was able to call them back. I called and left a very short message “Please stop calling my mom at 555-555-5555, or I will report you”. I kind of figured that would be the end of it.
Low and behold, I see the number pop up on my phone a few minutes later.
I answered and was greeted with such pleasantries as, “What do you mean you F**%^*^ B***^* that you’re going to report us?” and many other choice words that I don’t even want to write. Needless to say, it wasn’t a sales call. A not very nice person (I’ve chosen to use a different vocabulary than they did) was trying to scam my mom out of money.
How many people had they already gotten with the scam? How many people, probably elderly, have paid money to them to avoid their power being shut off? It makes me sick.
The same week, we had friends visiting and she went online. She had no extra security on anything other than her password. I started teasing her saying, “if you’re just giving money away, where should I get in line?” She just laughed and went about her business.
Sure enough, days later, my phone started ringing. They had been hacked and lost over $1000. Guess where? ROBLOX—a kids game! Someone broke into their PayPal account and was able to charge over $1000 in purchases.
You would think that would be enough, right? Nope! A short while later, I received a text saying, “We found your package. Please click here to track it.” It wasn’t an email where I’m used to being careful with links I don’t know; it was a text message. I googled the message and phone number. It was a scam that is sometimes linked to sex trafficking.
Last but not least, a dear friend got a phone call saying there was an issue with her Apple Security and she needed to fix it. Thankfully, she was smart enough to ignore it and call her friend at Apple who said they would NEVER call asking for her information.
I know security is an issue everywhere, but a lot of people seem to be holding on to the fact that it’s an inconvenience. I know, because I used to be one of those people. Before I worked at EZ Micro I would give my husband a hard time about having 2-factor identification. I would often be on my laptop upstairs, but the 2-factor would be coming in on my phone downstairs and I’d have to WALK DOWN THE STAIRS. Such a bother! Silly, I know, but I bet many of you can relate.
I can give you a million stats about businesses that lose millions of dollars from hackers, but sometimes that information goes in one ear and out the other. I am hoping that sharing a few examples of what I’ve experienced first-hand recently will remind everyone how dangerous it is out there—especially if you are a small business.
It is no longer the world of the “hackers in the basement” making viruses for fun. There are now organizations that are run just like companies with strategic plans, org charts, and performance reviews. They are specifically designed to watch you and your accounts and break-in at just the right time.