Friday afternoon, about 4 pm, I was wasting some time on my computer. Email, Facebook, browsing for unneeded things. Suddenly, the computer stopped; and a warning, in a deep, monotone voice said: “Your computer has a virus. Call Apple right now.” The number appeared on the screen.
The computer, a fairly old MacBook Pro that has been my loyal companion through several writing projects, was frozen.
Frankly, for a few weeks, a lot of advertisements had been popping up; downloading had become slow, and the little spinning beach ball had appeared and lingered; making posting difficult. I figured, well maybe it had a virus, or at least, needed software upgraded. But I ignored it, thinking I’d get to it in time, or hoping it would go away.
Until this weird, scary robot warning.
So I called. Immediately the phone was answered, and someone named Aaron began answering my questions, and that yes, I was experiencing viruses, and that he could fix everything.
Yay! Whether it’s the car, the dishwasher, the smart phone, or the computer, most of us want things repaired as soon as possible. And with everything being so technical, gone are the days we can attempt to fix things ourselves.
So I answered more question, divulged lots of personal information, and granted him access to my computer. I also paid for AppleCare, and figuring that I ‘d recently replaced my IPhone, a $400 package for 5 years sounded like a good deal.
He said the process would take about an hour and I wasn’t to touch anything during that time. Well, I was having a dinner party, so had plenty to do.
Meanwhile, my husband returned from playing tennis. I told him what was going on, and he asked if it was a scam. Perhaps I’d been hacked.
No, I couldn’t have. This Aaron guy had given me his phone number, and an employee ID. He even said he was based in Cupertino, CA, home of Apple.
But I started to get nervous. By around 8 pm, in the midst of dinner, I decided to call my brother in-law, Pierre, who fixes computers. A former IBMer, he started his own business consulting, repairing and educating people about their computers, and services MACS and PC’s. He said Apple would never tell you to call them, and told me to shut down the computer immediately. We agreed to connect on Saturday morning and he would be able to access the problems.
So, I’d been hacked. I was vulnerable and gullible. And paid $400 via PayPal, that is now in dispute. I hardly slept that night, both from being annoyed at my susceptibility and worrying that our personal identities had been stolen and finances wiped out.
In the morning, Pierre used a reputable app to gain access to my computer. He was able to run various virus-detecting programs, and in short, cleaned it up. I hadn’t lost any data and the bank hadn’t contacted us saying we’d been hacked. However, Pierre said it was time to replace this dinosaur, as its operating system was so old it wouldn’t accept upgrades.
We ordered a MacBook Air on line and picked it up later that day at our local Apple store. Pierre managed the transfer of data from my old computer to my new one, (it’s called migration in computer-speak), and I’m back up and running. New passwords and hopefully wiser when it comes to hackers.
So beware weird emails, phone calls, or interruptions in service delivered by robotic voices. Hang up, shut down. Then take your device to someone you trust to solve the problem.
My brother in-law wouldn’t take any payment from me. Instead, I made a donation to his non-profit that refurbishes computers and donates them to kids in need.
Here’s the link: https://www.gofundme.com/etf2c-a-cause-i-care-about-needs-help
And Pierre works remotely, internationally. Contact me if you’d like his number.