Scammers rob elderly victims of an estimated $3 Billion per year.
A scam that has been around since at least 2008 is still active and targeting elderly folks. Seventy-four year old Avast evangelist, Bob Gostischa, who knows a thing or two about scams, security, and privacy, received a call just yesterday from a scam artist attempting to steal money. “If it happened to me, I’m sure it’s going to also happen to others,” said Gostischa.
Here’s the basic premise:
Someone either calls or emails pretending to be your grandchild. The typical story is that they have been wrongfully arrested and need bail money wired right away. Another variation says they are traveling and have been mugged or even in an accident and badly injured. After going through this frantic sob story, and if they sense that their victim is falling for it, the scammer asks for money to be wired through services such as Western Union and MoneyGram.
After the phone call ended, Bob sent us a transcript so we could share it with Avast Blog readers. “I consider myself lucky because the first instinct was wow, how can I help her…?,” he said. “I guess we all really need to be very vigilant at all times.”
Caller: Hello Grandpa, this is your granddaughter. I have laryngitis so I don’t sound like myself
Bob: You certainly don’t. Which granddaughter?
Caller: What do you mean?
Bob: Well, I have several. Read more…
Running the customer service department here at the AVAST headquarters brings with it a huge variety of challenges – keeping over 150 million users satisfied is no easy task – and we see a whole range of emails from complimentary caricatures to concerning complaints.
During the past week or so, we have received some complaints and it appears that some of our customers are being targeted by a new scam. Luckily only a handful of customers have contacted us regarding this so far, but they report receiving phone calls from “Avast customer service” reps who need to take control of their computer to resolve some issue and who, for a fee, wish to charge them for this privilege.
I would like to set the record straight – here at AVAST, we never phone our customers (unless they specifically ask us to of course) and none of the partners we work with do either. We currently offer free and premium in-bound phone support for our English speaking customers (and also Spanish from next week) and we remain happy to assist as much as we can via email and our ever-popular user forum, but we do not make unsolicited calls – not for sales, not for support, and certainly not to try to scam our loyal customers.
We do always advise our customers to stay alert – online, and in this case, on the phone. Never disclose your credit card details to anyone unless you are specifically contacting them to make a purchase, never download software you are unfamiliar with, and never give access to your computer (remotely or in person) to someone you do not trust.
Stay Alert – Stay Safe