We’ve seen a rash of these scams lately and want to get the word out to our members to help protect you from becoming the victim of fraud.
The Norton/McAfee billing scam
There’s a good chance you’ve gotten an email at some point over the past several months. Scammers have been sending out a LOT of them – sometimes over 200,000 in a single day.
They tend to follow a predictable format. They are supposedly being sent from Norton or McAfee, and the basic message is that your credit card will be charged $199, $299, or even $399 (the dollar amount varies) to renew the service that you have supposedly subscribed to.
Of course, the recipients of these emails are not going to be charged anything. That’s just to get your attention.
The REAL goal of these scam emails is to get you to call the phone number. They know that people will read this and think, “Wait a minute, I don’t subscribe to those antivirus programs – what’s going on?” And the person will see that big notice that says “For information about your order, please call…”. Or it might even say, “To cancel this renewal charge, call this number”. And of course the person doesn’t want to pay that charge, so they call the number.
That’s the big mistake here – calling the phone number. That’s exactly what they want you to do. NEVER CALL THE NUMBER!
When you make that phone call, you will be talking to a professional scammer who is very good and very clever at this game. He will sound very convincing. A lot of people are tricked by this.
When the scammer has you on the phone, he will tell you that they need to remote in to your computer in order to uninstall the software and process your refund. But in the background, he’ll be installing other malicious software and more unattended remote access tools – so that he can get into your computer anytime, even when you’re not on the phone with him.
If the scammer senses that you are especially gullible, he might ask you for your credit card information in order to “process the refund”. You obviously don’t want to give a scammer your credit card information.
In another version of this scam the scammer will request your online banking log in information to post a refund to you. Instead they transfer money between your accounts to look like they posted a refund, but, oops, they paid too much and they need you to wire the funds back to them. All they are trying to do is get you to send your OWN money to them, they’re not interested in refunding you anything.
The key to success is this: if you get an email like this stating that you owe some money, or that your credit card will be charged, or has been charged, DON’T CALL THE NUMBER ON THE EMAIL and DON’T CLICK ON ANY LINKS IN THE EMAIL! The best thing you can do is just DELETE THE EMAIL.
What To Do if You Were Scammed
If you paid a scammer with a credit or debit card, you may be able to stop the transaction. Contact your credit card company, bank, or credit union right away. Tell them what happened and ask if they can reverse the charges.
If you paid a scammer with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card right away. Tell them you paid a scammer with the gift card and ask if they can refund your money.
If you gave a scammer remote access to your computer, update your computer’s security software. Then run a scan and delete anything it identifies as a problem.
If you gave your username and password to a scammer, change your password right away. If you use the same password for other accounts or sites, change it there, too.
If someone calls you to offer a refund for services you supposedly paid for, it’s likely a fake refund scam. How does the scam work? The caller will ask you if you were happy with the services you got. If you say “no”, they’ll offer you a refund. In another variation, the caller says the company is giving out refunds because it’s going out of business. No matter their story, they’re not giving refunds. They’re trying to steal more of your money. Don’t give them your bank account, credit or debit card, or any other payment information.
If a scammer contacts you, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at: ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
When you report a scam, the FTC can use the information to build cases against scammers.