A Legitimate Scam

The Fraud Alert - Don Shrader

A few weeks ago, my internet email provider suddenly suspended my email account such that I could neither send nor receive emails. An email message from them to me said that my account had been compromised and that I needed to change my password. I have used this provider for years and this has never happened before. Anyhow, given their message, I went to my accounts list and tried to log onto the email provider’s website in order to change my password. However, since they had suspended my password, I was unable to log into my account. So, I had to call my email provider to help me log in and change my password. As expected, the technician on the phone gave me a temporary password to use in order to log into my account and then update my password to a stronger password. So far, so good.

Now comes what I call the “legitimate scam.” It is legitimate because the incident did involve my actual email provider and I did initiate the call to them. Once on the phone with tech support, that person confirmed that I needed to change my password because my “email had been compromised.” I was surprised because I saw no sign of any such activity on my emails to date. However, I was not given a choice whether or not to change my password.

Tech support then informed me that they were going to run an audit of my computer to check for any malicious viruses. Before he did (which I was not planning to allow him to do), he asked if I had any antivirus software. I informed him that I did, at which point he queried as to which one. I told him.

Now, here’s the heart of the “scam.” The tech support person informed me that my antivirus software was not truly an antivirus software and lacked the ability to effectively stop most computer hackers. The tech support person then offered to install a different antivirus software (in actuality, it would have been with an established software company that has built its reputation on antiviral software, but not one I wanted on my computer). Not only did the tech support person offer to install that antivirus software on my computer, but he further offered to provide it at a special low monthly rate. I thanked the person for his assistance but informed him that I would need to confer with my personal IT tech support person before making any switch.

When I conveyed the comments made by the email tech support person to my personal computer tech support person, he just laughed. He then reiterated what I already knew, and that was the fact that the antiviral software he put on my computer has been, and still is currently, the number-one-rated antiviral software in the world. It is something he re-evaluates on a regular basis. He then surmised that the potential compromise to my email account was probably the result of the email provider’s computer system being hacked, which in turn resulted in a potential compromise to all the emails they currently host.

Upon further reflection of the incident, I concluded that the email tech support person probably had no legitimate knowledge of the antiviral software on my computer, nor did he care. It would not have made any difference what software I indicated as long it was not the one he was offering to sell me; his response would have been the same as his goal at that point, to sell me the software he offered, which in turn provides him or his company a commission for each sale.

Whatever the reason, or the email tech support person’s knowledge, the fact is that I now have my email account working again without paying an additional monthly fee while retaining the number-one-rated antiviral software on my computer via a paid-up license for the next several years, assuming that it retains its superior protection. I almost hate to say this, but in today’s world, one begins to wonder if the email provider company did not suspend my password, along with other customers, just to force me to call the company whereby they could offer me a “better” antivirus solution. As the old Monk TV show used to begin, “It’s a jungle out there.”

The Fraud Alert

Don Shrader