i am going to tell you about a phone call i actually got today, since it may save some of you from getting into trouble. the only problem is that by the time i hear about these types of things, they have usually been around for a looooooooooooooong time, so this might not be big news. oh well. on the chance that it is news to you, i’m gonna write about it.

someone called me today from _______________ tech support (fill in any official sounding company name). the man- who sounded exactly like a tech-support guy- asked if i was the person whose name the phone was in (or the lady of the house or the adult at home… i don’t know. i was 1/2 paying attention. the caller ID came up as a generic name like ‘sarah miller’, and i was trying to figure out who sarah miller was and who this guy was and what vegetable to make with supper tonight…). so i said yes, hoping he would get on with the call so i could figure out what he wanted.

and he launched into some shpiel about how our computer had been downloading some bad information and sending them error reports and he could fix them, so at first i thought he was trying to sell us anti-virus software, but then i paid more attention to what he was saying. i started to blow him off, saying i didn’t really deal with computer issues in our house, but that got him very excited for some reason, and he offered to fix the problem for me over the phone if i could go right now to our computer and he could talk me through it.

uh oh. red flag.

i had him repeat everything again, just so i was could be very sure about what he was saying.

now i am no computer wizard.

like, not at all.

but he was very generously offering that i could log onto my computer and allow him to pretty much hack into it remotely and- i’m fairly certain- help himself to all of our private data. oh, and use our accounts for heavens-knows what else.

now this is quite frightening, because he was very self-assured about the idea that OUR computer had been sending THEM reports about getting all kinds of bad things happening to it. i’m sure that elderly people would believe this in a second. if i wasn’t a voracious reader<strong> i</em> am the type who might believe this in a second…

my younger kids may very well have walked him straight onto our computer, and luckily the one who would have been fooled by what he said doesn’t have any passwords to get onto anything.

unrelated, yet quite related, i was just reading the other day about someone who actually sexually abused people OVER THE PHONE. he was so confident and self-assured. he would call stores and convince employees that he was with the police department and he was investigating them for theft or some other petty crime and he would literally have them perform strip searches on each other and other lewd acts while he listened on the phone by threatening them that if he had to come into the store to ‘take them downtown’ it would be much worse for them criminally. by the time he was caught he had done this to dozens of victims.

you think that crazy stuff could never happen to you because you would always know better and you could always suss out a scam. but people fall victim to scams every single day. professionals get away with this because they stay one step ahead of us. for every trick we hear about, they are cooking up 12 new ones.

so, if you get a phone call or a knock at your door from someone you weren’t expecting, just be careful. you don’t have to be paranoid, but you do have to be diligent.

my policy is if i want your services, i’ll find you.

otherwise, my front door exists for your protection.