Our victim – I’ll call him John – contacted the Geek Squad to help him remove a program from his computer. He was given instructions, which he followed but the program remained. Before he had a chance to follow up, he received a call from someone claiming to be from the Geek Squad. The caller seemed to know all about John’s problem and asked about the refund that was supposed to have been credited to his account. The caller convinced John to log into his checking account to look for this refund and had John relay information, including his login information and the code sent via text. John was a bit wary, but trusted the Geek Squad and proceeded to allow the caller to “work” on the problem. The following day, he logged into online access for his financial accounts and he noticed that money had been moved between two accounts without his authorization or knowledge. Oops! He quickly called Rhinebeck Wealth Advisors, described the issue, and before anyone could further compromise his accounts, we had his online access disabled and his debit card and checks were cancelled and reissued. The only explanation for what happened seemed to be the supposed member of the Geek Squad had gathered the info needed to gain online access to John’s accounts.
The moral of the story – and there are several – is, when in doubt, hang up. To verify a caller’s authenticity, ask for a call back number, verify that it belongs to the institution, and then you can call and make sure it is indeed the business you thought it was. Do not ever give out your login credentials and if you do allow someone to remotely access your computer, be sure to watch what they are doing and close any windows that are not needed for the task at hand.
For more information about tech support scams, click here for a post by the FTC, How to Spot, Avoid, and Report Tech Support Scams | Consumer Information.
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Keeping Your Account Secure – advice from FINRA on protecting your financial information.
This is a hypothetical example for illustration purposes only.