The Technology Blog

How To Avoid Fake Warrant Scams

By | Scams | No Comments

There’s A Warrant For Your Arrest!

The other day I received a call from an unknown number and let it go to voicemail. With all the political and scam phone calls lately it’s become my standard practice. It’s easier to listen to the voicemail. This time, however, the voicemail was quite disturbing and left me calling my local sheriff’s office. The caller claimed to be with my local sheriff’s department and that there was a warrant for my arrest! Luckily, after calling my local sheriff’s office, it turned out to be a malicious scam.

How-To-Avoid-Fake-Warrant-Scams

How To Avoid Fake Warrant Scams

How The Warrant Scam Works

Sadly, these types of threatening phone call scams are becoming everyday occurrences. What’s even worse about Warrant Scams is that scammers and criminals typically target specific groups of individuals: the elderly, recent immigrants, people whose second language is English, and persons with past convictions.

The caller identifies themself as someone with your local sheriff’s office or police department. They may have a false badge number or other fake info to make it sound official. They then tell you that they are calling you because there is a warrant for your arrest due to a minor charge such as missing a Jury Duty summons. Now that they have you legitimately worried, they will tell you they are authorized to handle the matter in two ways, “Criminally” and “Civilly.” “Criminally” means they will come and arrest you at your home or workplace, which no one wants. “Civilly” means they will forego criminal charges if you pay a fine. Now that they’ve fooled you, they ask you to purchase a prepaid debit card and provide you with a number to call back in order to process your payment.

How To Avoid Fake Warrant Scams

The best way to avoid warrant scams and to not be a victim of scammers is to know that Sheriff’s Offices, Police Departments and Law Enforcement Agencies will not ask or demand payments to avoid arrest! If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be with law enforcement demanding payment get as much information from the caller then call your local police department or sheriff’s office it report it or simply hang up!

Remember, scammers are criminals. Even if they know you are on to them, they will use intimidation tactics to get you to comply or give them your personal information. When receiving any unsolicited phone call, if you are suspicious of the caller in anyway, hang up and call the business, banking institution or law enforcement agency directly. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Cardless ATM Banking Scam

By | Email, Scams | No Comments

Cardless ATM Banking Scam

During the holiday shopping season we’re thinking about finding the perfect gift. When we do find the perfect gift for that special someone, whether online or in a store, we don’t need the experience ruined by our credit or debit card not working. Scammers and fraudsters know it too and they’re not taking the holiday season off!

Cardless-ATM-Banking-Scam

Cardless ATM Banking Scam

Scammers Use Fake Mobile Banking Alerts

Many of us, myself included, use mobile banking apps to quickly, easily and safely access our banking account information. So what do you do when you get a text or email saying your account has been “locked” with instructions to “unlock” it? Scammers are using this type of banking alert scam to rob unsuspecting victims at an alarming rate. So, before you begin to panic, take a deep breath and call your bank or credit union directly. Don’t use the number provided or click on any links in the text or email!

How Banking Scams Work

The first step the scammer takes is to convince you that your account is locked with an official looking text or email. Once you take the bait, they ask you to confirm your bank account and debit card information either on a fraudulent site (a website that they have created and appears to be your banks official site) or over the phone with a number they provide you. They ask you to confirm your card numbers, account numbers, passwords, PIN numbers, security questions and your personally identifiable information. After they have all your information they use it to withdraw money from Cardless ATMs. In some cases completely draining your accounts!

What Are Cardless ATMs?

Like the name implies, Cardless ATMs are ATMs that don’t require the user to use their debit or credit card to access their account and withdraw money. They aren’t common throughout the United States, but most larger banks and financial institutions are using them in more and more locations. While they are secure, no financial institution would knowingly use a risky device, scammers will always find a way to exploit new technology.

Avoiding Bank Scams

The best way to avoid these types of scams is to know what your bank or financial institution’s policies are. Know why your account would be locked, i.e. too many failed login attempts or suspicious account activity, and how they go about contacting you. If you do receive an email, text or phone call from someone claiming to be from your bank hang up or ignore it, then contact your bank directly.

Shop With Confidence This Holiday Season

By | Cyber Security, Smartphones & Tablets | No Comments

Shop With Confidence This Holiday Season

The 2018 holiday shopping season is off to a great start with online sales leading the way. Cyber Monday far exceeded estimates with nearly $8 billion in sales! All of the ease and convenience of online shopping can quickly become offset by the added risk of identity theft. Every year during the holiday season, cybercriminals ramp up their efforts.

Shop-With-Confidence-This-Holiday-Season

Shop With Confidence This Holiday Season

We want you to shop with confidence this holiday season and enjoy your time with family and friends, not worrying if your credit or debit card has been compromised or someone has gotten hold of your social security number.

Quick Tips To Secure Online Shopping

  • Don’t buy on public WiFi.  Sitting in your favorite coffee shop and searching for the perfect gift you may be tempted to buy right there while you have wifi. Don’t do it! Public WiFi users are prime targets for scammers and criminals.
  • Make sure the door is locked. Make sure the site your buying on has the proper security to safeguard your personal information and payment information. Always check for the little lock symbol and “https” to the left of the url. If you don’t see it, don’t enter in any of your information since the site is not secure and hackers could get their hands on your information.
  • Go to the website. Many of us get emails from our favorite online stores telling us of great deals and sales. During the holiday season phishing scams rise dramatically because scammers know people are looking for those deals more than ever. If you see a deal you want to take advantage of, go directly to the site. If it is a legitimate sale it will be advertised on their site.
  • Keep those updates coming. Make sure you’re computer and devices are getting the proper security updates so they stay secure. With the increase of scams and online shopping during the holiday season it’s more important than ever to keep your devices up to date.

Businesses Keep Your Customers Safe

For many businesses, the holidays are their busiest season, especially retailers. Providing the best customer service and a warm, welcoming environment for your patrons is important. Don’t let a technology and cyber security issues bring a blue christmas. Pros 4 Technology can assist you in providing confidence in your cyber security and IT. Contact us to schedule a consultation and to discuss your tech needs.   

Finding The Best Tech Support For Your Small Business

By | Business Network Security, Cyber Security, Scams | No Comments

Finding The Best Tech Support For Your Small Business

Business of all sizes use devices of all types to run and operate. From accounting and payroll to invoicing and selling products online, in today’s fast paced world if you don’t run your business online you’re behind the times. Unfortunately, with so many things for business owners to focus on, IT and tech support often go overlooked.  

Finding-The-Best-Tech-Support-For-Your-Small-Business

Finding The Best Tech Support For Your Small Business

Why IT & Tech Support Are Important

You’re running your business, you don’t have time to think about tech support. But what happens when computer issues occur and your ability to conduct business comes to a grinding halt? You do an internet search for IT support to get your computer issues resolved and hope your back to focusing on the important aspects of running your business. You want your problems fixed and fixed fast. Hackers and scammers know it too and it’s why every year small businesses fall prey to a wide array of scams.  

Tech Support Scams

There are some of the common ways that scammers try and take advantage of small businesses.

  1. One way that cyber criminals target small businesses is by setting up fake tech support companies. The scammer then takes out an add so when you search for a tech support company, their “tech support” webpage shows up near the top of the results. When you contact them they request access to your computer and a fee for their services. After taking your money, they may fix the problem, but they also access your business info.
  2. Scammers use popups saying that your computer or device has been infected by a virus. Usually they claim to be from a trusted IT security company or computer company. They provide a phone number for you to call in hopes that you fall for the scam and give them access to your computer.
  3. Scammers will also use old fashioned cold-calling claiming to be representatives from a tech support company. They tell you your computer has been affected by malware or a virus and that they can remove it for a small fee. 

Find A Trusted Local Tech Support Company

Many small business believe that they either don’t need tech support or that it will be too expensive. If you have company information stored on a computer or do online transactions, you need to protect your business. The best place to look for tech support is from a trusted local company. Local tech support companies typically offer a variety of options and will know which is best for your business needs. It’s not a question of IF computer issues will occur, but WHEN computer issues occur. Don’t wait, contact Pros 4 Technology today to discuss your business’ cyber security.

How To Create Strong Passwords

By | Business Network Security, Cyber Security | No Comments

How To Create Strong Passwords

In the world of internet security and prevent cyber crimes one of the most important things to do is to create strong, unique passwords. Just doing an internet search for “preventing identity theft” or “protecting against cyber crimes” will bring up countless sites offering advice. At or near the top of every list of how to protect yourself will be, passwords. In this week’s post we’ve combined our years of experience and the latest expert advice from tech experts on the best practices for personal passwords.

How To-Create-Strong-Passwords

How To Create Strong Passwords

Why a Strong Password is Needed

A strong, unique password is your first line of defense against identity theft and cyber criminals. Hackers and cyber criminals use many techniques to gain access to your online accounts, including programs that will keep guessing passwords from a predetermined list until one is successful. Once they have access to your account they will try and use the same password to gain access to your other accounts.

Unique Password

The vast majority of people come up with one or two passwords that they use for multiple or all of their online accounts. It might be a very difficult password to guess, something like “Jtk34Nm!78.” They think that because the password is so hard to randomly guess that it is a strong password and use it for all their accounts, thinking they can’t be hacked. However, if a hacker does figure out your password they now have access to all your accounts. Creating a unique password for each online account is essential.

Using Passphrases

The old standard advice when creating a password was to use a combination of letters (both upper and lower case), numbers and symbols. We were told to start with a word and then substitute numbers and symbols to create the password. So what started as the word “elephant” would be El3P@n# by the end. Not very easy to remember. Instead of relying on complex, hard to remember passwords, try using passphrases. Passphrases are long, complex passwords without all the numbers and symbols. Instead of writing “elephant” as “El3P@n#” using a passphrase you would use “elephantsgocrazy.” Complex, long, and unique.

Password Manager Programs

Since we all have multiple online accounts, remembering and managing passwords can be a monumental task. Using a password manager removes the hassle. Just remember, make sure the password for the password manager is strong and unique (and write it down in a safe place if you’re afraid of forgetting, don’t store it on a device!).

Multi-Factor Authentication

When possible use multi-factor authentication to secure your devices and accounts. The type of multi-factor authentication depends on the service or device. Some, like emails, will text you during the sign in process with a confirmation number. You can set your smartphone to require your thumbprint before purchases. Check your accounts and wherever possible set up multi-factor authentication for added protection.

iTunes Gift Card Scams

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A Warning About iTunes Gift Card Scams

The most important thing for you to learn from this week’s blog post is this: Apple support personnel will never ask you to pay for anything using a gift card! Now here’s why.

iTunes-Gift-Card-Scams

iTunes Gift Card Scams

How Gift Card Scams Work

The Set Up: You’re busy Tweeting, Snapping, texting emojis or binging your favorite show on Hulu when it all comes to a crashing halt! Your internet freezes. Before you can even bring up Settings you receive a text from someone claiming to be with Apple support. The text conversation may go something like this.
Scam Text: Hello, I’m from Apple Support. There is an issue with your phone’s ability to connect to the internet. Call Apple Support to get the issue resolved.
Your Text: Thank you, I am having issues. I’ll call right away.
Scam Text: Glad I can help. My direct line is 1-800-555-1234.
Little do you know that it’s the scammer that has managed to freeze your phone and is now hijacking it to rob you of money.

The Scam: You call the 800 number and everything seems legit. The scammer is friendly and acts like they’re looking into things. They tell you they’ve found the issue and you can purchase something to fix the issue. They may say it’s an upgrade, downloadable software or that your account has an outstanding balance. Next, the scammer tells you how much it will cost and that you’ll need to use iTunes gift cards for payment and to call back once you’ve purchased the gift cards. You run to the nearest store, buy the iTunes gift cards and call back. The scammer has you read the gift cards numbers and says they will be processing processing your payment and fixing the issue.

One of two things happen after the scammer has removed the funds from the gift cards:
The scammer ends the phone call and it’s not until later when the issue is unresolved that you discovered you were scammed
After “running” your payment, the scammer tells you the issue is still unresolved and you’ll need to purchase something else to fix it hoping you’ll buy more gift cards.

Spot & Stop The Scam

The most important thing to spot the scam is to remember that Apple support personnel will never ask you to buy anything with a gift card! The second most important thing is to keep your phone up to date with updates. Apple has regular updates for all their products that help protect them from scammers and hackers’ attempts to gain control of your phone.

Threatening Voicemail Scams

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Threatening Voicemail Scams

Let’s be honest, when we get a call from an unknown number we let it go to voicemail. We throw proper phone etiquette out the window when it comes to unknown callers. We wait and check the voicemail. We check the voicemail and discover we’re in trouble.

Threatening-Voicemail-Scams

Threatening Voicemail Scams

A Threatening Message

Law enforcement agencies have seen a growing number of reports of phone calls and voicemails that threaten people with legal action. In some cases people are reporting multiple phone calls a day! The voicemail or automated message usually goes something like this:

“We are contacting you in regards to the allegations brought against you. You have not responded to our efforts to contact you. To avoid the matter being brought to local law enforcement, please contact us at xxx-xxx-xxxx.”

Sometimes the message also includes the name of a law firm (which may or may not be legitimate), the first name of the person to contact and a local number for you to call, making them sound even more legit. When you call the number provided the scammer uses threatening language and intimidation to get you to give your personal information or bank account info to them.

What To Do After Receiving A Threatening Voicemail

The first thing to do is to STOP. Do not call that number. If there were serious allegations against you, you wouldn’t be alerted to them over the phone through an automated message!  The criminal is trying to scare you in hopes of getting your personal information. The second thing to do is report the phone number to the Federal Trade Commission. When you report the phone numbers you’re helping protect others.

Charity Scams

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The Sad Truth of Charity Scams

It’s sad, but true that there are people out there that try and take advantage of people that give monetary donations to help the victims of natural disasters. We dig deep and look to help and give to those affected by earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Criminals and scammers see it as a time to get rich.

avoid-charity-scams

Avoid Charity Scams

Scamming Charitable Givers?

While there are many good and trustworthy charities and organizations that put your money to good use aiding those affected by natural disasters, such as hurricane Michael, there are some “charities” that are not legit. After every major natural disaster scammers steal large amounts of money from unsuspecting, generous donors. There are many ways in which they try and get their hands on donations meant for people in actual need of help.

  1. They set up fake domains that appear to be for a real charity that will help the victims of the specific natural disaster you’re trying to donate to. They set up a domain containing words you would expect to see; hurricane, disaster relief, donate, the name of the hurricane or place where the disaster took place.
  2. Send mailers or postcards asking you to donate with instructions guiding you to their fake charity website.
  3. Emails and social media posts with imbedded links leading to their website.
  4. Going door-to-door claiming to be from the area affected or having family and friends in the area that need help.

No matter which tactic they take, the result is the same. You give a donation thinking it’s going to help people, but it never makes it out of the scammers pocket.

Make Sure Your Donation Is Used To Help

There are so many good charities that do great work in communities affected by natural disasters and traumatic events. The most famous, the Red Cross, is a great example of how a real charity works. They will openly share with you how your donation is used. They have a transparent model and answer your questions and don’t guilt you into giving more money. They allow you to specify where or to which disaster relief effort you wish your donation to go towards. And, they allow you to make an one-time or sign up for monthly payments if you choose. If a “charity” does not provide these things it could be a red flag that they are not a legitimate charity.

When giving to charities that are not local and easily knowable, give to those that are well known and have a strong reputation for using donations in a responsible way. If you think you have been solicited by a fake or disreputable charity, report the scam to theBetter Business Bureau at. There are people that need your help after natural disasters, scammers and criminals don’t.

Protect Yourself Against Malvertising

By | Cyber Security | No Comments

Protect Yourself Against Malvertising

We all know spam emails. Those annoying emails that flood our inboxes and build up to the point of absurdity. Since we’ve all heard the warnings about opening suspicious emails or clicking on links inside spam emails, we ignore the urgent subject lines and delete our chances of inheriting millions of dollars from an African prince who was kind enough to leave all his riches to us. But did you know, that there is a new form of spam? Malvertising.

protect-against-malvertising

Protect Yourself Against Malvertising

What is malvertising?

Malvertising is spam in the form of internet ads. Cybercriminals use internet ads, even on trusted websites, as a vehicle for viruses. How malvertising differs from traditional spam emails is that you don’t have to click on the ad for your computer to become infected! And once the virus is installed onto your computer it can wreak havoc! Malware can delete and modify files, allow hackers to gather information about you or steal your personal information, or seriously affect the performance of your device.

Wondering how a virus from an ad can be downloaded without clicking on the ad? Security flaws in ad programming, most notably Adobe Flash. Just by visiting a website that has infected ads you become vulnerable to cybercriminals. They use ad networks to place the virus infected ads onto a publisher’s website which can then be automatically downloaded onto a victim’s device.

So how can you protect yourself?

  1. Use an ad-blocking browser plugin. This is the most effective way of making sure malvertising ads don’t get the chance to download viruses onto your device. However, using an adblocker will also block legitimate ads of the websites you visit.
  2. Make sure your plugins and web browser are up to date and routinely check for upgrades. As cybercriminals develop new threats, companies develop software and program upgrades to keep you safe.
  3. Have your browser flag malicious content. Under your browser’s “Settings” there will be a “Security” or “Privacy” section where you will find an option to turn on/off “Safe Browsing.” Turn on “Safe Browsing” and your browser will warn you if your visiting a malicious or questionable site.

There is no sure-fire-way to protect your device completely. Cybercriminals are always creating new ways to infect your device and sabotage your files and steal your information. However, there are proactive steps that you can take to protect your device, information and identity. If you own a business or handle IT, contact Pros 4 Technology to learn more and discover how we can help protect your business and your clients’ information.

Protect Yourself From Computer Viruses

By | Business Network Security, Cyber Security | No Comments

Protect Yourself From Computer Viruses

Grab Some Tissues, Your Computer Has A Runny Nose!
You’ve got aches, slight fever, cough and a runny nose. Chances are, you’ve got a virus. The next few days you’ll spend drinking a lot of water, sipping chicken soup and vegging out. If only computer viruses were as easy to diagnose and treat!

 Protect-Yourself-From-Computer-Viruses

Protect Yourself From Computer Viruses

What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is a malicious code or program that is written to alter the way your computer operates and performs. It acts much like a virus you or I may contract during the course of the year (especially if you don’t wash your hands after being in public areas…). A computer virus “infects” a computer and then can spread from computer to computer as the malicious code or program is shared or if the computer is part of a larger network, like at work. It can even remain dormant on your computer for a period of time showing no major signs or symptoms. Unfortunately, there isn’t any form of technology that is immune to viruses.

What does a computer virus do?

When we get sick, we know that the virus is trying to make our life miserable and make us watch afternoon TV gameshows. When a virus infects a computer there is a much more sinister reasons…Viruses are designed for various purposes; steal passwords or data, log keystrokes, corrupt files and operating systems, spam email contacts and even to take full control of your computer.

How to protect yourself from computer viruses.

Whether surfing the web, downloading apps and programs or opening links and attachments, it’s critical to use caution and protect yourself and your computer.

  • Use and run an anti-virus program. Most anti-virus and computer protection software will protect your computer and warn you when you visit sites that have been linked to distributing files containing viruses. Most anti-virus software also run daily or scheduled scans of your computer to find and eliminate viruses.
  • Make sure your programs and software are kept up to date. New viruses are being developed daily and software companies are continually creating important updates to their programs to protect them from viruses. Set your updates to happen on a regular basis, you can even have your computer update overnight so it’s ready for use in the morning.

If you think your computer has been compromised by a virus or you own a business with multiple computers on your network, contact Pros 4 Technology to discuss your security needs. Don’t wait till there’s a virus, protect your info now!