Yesterday as I was upstairs working on my blog, Joan called out to me. I could hear some urgency in her voice, so a rushed downstairs to see what was happening. She was sitting in front of her computer looking at the screen. She had been checking out airline prices and suddenly this pop-up window appeared and wouldn’t let her go any further. Because we have always used Apple products, we have never had any experience with viruses, so this was all new territory for us.
As I read it, I too became concerned, it was a pretty scary message: “Your credit card details and banking information, email passwords and other account passwords, private photos, and webcam could be accessed remotely by stalkers, if potential viruses are not removed immediately.”--It was all scary stuff. It said we could call 1-855-345-6102 immediately for support.
I wasn’t sure what to do. It seemed pretty likely that it was a scam, but at the same time it did feature the Safari browser icon in the corner, which made me think it was legit. I was suspicious that by calling the “Toll Free” number, I would be told to give them access to the computer so they could “fix” the problem, and then they would end up with all the information the message had warned me about. Instead, I did a Google search on the phone number. It gave me a whole variety of different phone and other scams and complaints associated with that number, so I figured that this “Warning” was not to be trusted.
But the problem remained that every time Joan tried to open up Safari, she got this pop-up screen and wasn’t allowed to go any further. I went online to an Apple Support Community, and emailed the question of how to get rid of this screen. Five minutes later, I got an email response from someone named Neil who said that all that needed to be done was to start up Safari while holding the “shift” key down.
I passed the word on to Joan, who tried it, and Safari opened without the scary pop-up. As it turned out we didn’t have a virus, but this was a set up to open your computer to thieves who wanted to scare you into letting them access your computer.
While it is distressing to realized that there are people out there trying to scare you into letting them “inspect” your computer, so that they will end up with all your computer information, it is good to know that at the same time, there are also people out there willing to share their computer knowledge so that you can solve your computer problems.
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