Internet Snake

I was searching the Internet when I got a pop-up warning me that my computer had been infected. Odd I thought since I had blocked pop-ups. The message gave me a phone number to call to fix the problem. I couldn’t shut down my browser and I panicked. My reptilian brain hissed “do something quick or you will be sorry.” I called the number. The man on the phone said he could see if I had a problem or not and before I could say anything he took remote control of my laptop. That’s when I began to think I had made a stupid mistake. My curser was moving and it wasn’t me moving it. He showed me reports from my system and said, “Your warranty has expired and you have no virus protection. See all those zeros on this report? I can get rid of the malware, clean up your system and install virus protection right now.”

“How much will that cost me?” I said as fear began to be replaced with skepticism.

“That depends whether you want protection for one year, three years or five years.” Then after I was silent he said, “One year is $99.”

“I can purchase virus protection from some other company, if I need it.” I said.

“Oh yes, but with a Mac, your choices are very limited.” I knew that was not true, but I just wanted to end the conversation so I didn’t argue.

“Then I’ll go to a Mac store,” I said.

“I’m okay with that,” he said.

I didn’t really care if it was okay with him, I thought. I was now angrier than scared. “If I change my mind what number can I call?”

As soon as I ended the call on the phone, I disconnected my computer from the Wi-Fi and shut it down. Then I called Apple Support. “No one should take control of your computer without your consent,” she said. “I would have been just as frightened as you were about what he might be doing.” Then she assured me that I had done the right thing to shut the computer down.

As I suspected even though the warranty had expired, that had not affected my virus protection. At no charge, she directed me through a series of tests on my computer system. The scam artist had lied on several counts and in doing so he had also defamed Apple. Relieved that no damage had been done, I told my reptilian brain to go sleep under a rock and then gave Apple Support the phone number from the scam artist.