I wanted to get this week’s edition of the Beauty Spotlight Team all set to go for today because I know everyone has stuff to do on New Year’s Eve day. But I had a rather distressing thing happen on Friday night that kind of slowed me down. Got time for a quick story?
My HP printer that was more than 5 years old stopped printing black ink because it dried up from me not printing frequently enough. I couldn’t fix it, so I decided to buy a new printer before year’s end so I could deduct the purchase. I bought another HP printer because I had good luck with the last one, got good tech support from HP in the early years of the printer (help with setup etc.), and I got 15% off the purchase by recycling my old HP printer at Best Buy where I bought the new one.
I decided to install the printer on Friday night. The salesman told me it would be easy. I plugged it in, put in the cartridges, loaded the paper, and calibrated the printing arms. Next, I had to connect the new printer to my wireless network. I couldn’t remember how I did it the last time because it was so long ago. I decided to call HP Support like I did years ago.
I googled HP Support, and without thinking, I clicked on the first URL that came up. It was “123.hp.com”. As I quickly looked at the site, I noticed that a chat box came up and someone started typing on the screen. I don’t always do screen chat, but I went with it. I even thought to myself that HP sure was customer-oriented and eager to help! Foolish me!
The guy in the on screen chat box, “Paul”, asked what kind of help I needed, and then told me he could help me set up my printer. He asked if he could share my screen to download the software he said I needed. Since I had done screen sharing with Apple in the past, I said yes. Mistake number 1. With Apple screen share, I have to click and do things myself in response to Apple’s directions. But this guy was moving around my screen doing things on his own. He downloaded files. He opened my System Preferences. He opened my Network file. Then he typed in the chat box that there was a problem with my network. He said he needed to talk to a technician about my problem.
Several minutes later, he came back on screen and wrote that they needed to repair something in my network. I told him my network was working fine, and that I was going to return the printer. He said that wouldn’t make a difference because my network was the problem. Then he typed that his Microsoft technician could fix it, but that I would have to pay $99.99 to have my network fixed. He typed that if they couldn’t fix it, they wouldn’t charge me.
I got very upset, and wondered if something was not right with this guy. I called the 888 phone number on the website thinking I was calling HP to find out if this guy Paul online was legit. A man with an Indian accent answered the phone. OK, I thought, maybe HP uses an overseas call center at night. I told him what happened, and he concurred that the problem was on my end and I had to pay them to “fix it”. Then I really freaked out, hung up my phone, disconnected the screen share as soon as I could. The guy on the phone tried to call me back 5 times, and my iPhone showed the incoming call as “Suspected Spam”. Very creepy.
I called the Geek Squad at my local Best Buy right away. When I explained what happened, the young man on the phone told me that I had contacted a fraudulent website posing as HP. He said never to click on the first URL that comes up in a search, and never to call a phone number that starts with 888. Anyway, those guys were definitely scammers that I contacted by mistake.
I was very upset because the phony guy online downloaded files, probably malware, onto my computer. So I called Apple Support, and got a really nice Apple tech support person who helped me run Malware detection software. We removed 3 fraudulent files that were downloaded onto my computer. Frankly, I’m still concerned there may be more so I will call back again tomorrow. He also helped me finish installing my HP printer and helped me connect it to my network. That’s why I pay Apple the big bucks for their products – because the tech support is really good.
I’m telling this tale to warn you not to be as impulsive as I was. I was in too much of a hurry, and I screwed up. I’m hoping that this will have a happy ending. But as my friend, Laura, told me: don’t use a credit card or do any banking on this computer in case there may be some software lurking that could capture my passwords. Ugh.
End of story. For now anyway.
I hope you and yours have a Happy Healthy and Fun New Year whatever you are up to. Hope 2018 is a good year for everyone. Stay safe!
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