Often I wonder why I still maintain a home telephone. It rings at inopportune times, often with a computer-generated sales pitch on the other end. Sometimes a human voice greets me. However, the person often has a heavy accent and is calling from a different continent.
So far today, the house phone has rung four times. Because it was a “740” area code, I answered the first call. Surprisingly the voice was that of a male calling from one of those distant countries where English is not the native language, despite the local number. “Hello, ma’am, there is a problem with your computer,” was the scammer’s opening line.
This same pretense occurred on my home telephone early on New Year’s Day 2015. Identifying himself as a representative of my internet provider, and not being fully awake after a celebratory evening of ballroom dancing, this usually scam-sniffing homeowner mistakenly believed the heavily accented caller.
Directions were given for me to sign on to the internet and follow his instructions. Thankfully, after I texted a technology-trained neighbor, she immediately arrived at the door and saved me from the clutches of the scammer by aborting the damage he had initiated.
Another central Ohio friend was not so lucky a few weeks later. The damage the same scam caused to her Mac computer required extensive repair, and also occurred via her home telephone number. Thankfully she does not have online banking, which potentially was the specific goal for that foreign caller.
Via the accented “technician’s” seemingly “helpful” manipulation to rectify “the internet problem,” these scammers are gaining access to passwords and other financial online components that could empty victims’ bank accounts or render unauthorized purchases using charge card numbers from prior online buying stored on the computer.
Despite the local “740” area code, please beware of this sudden resurgence of this scam. The callers are not reputable despite representing themselves as employees of your home telephone or internet provider.
These accented scammers are seeking financial information stored on your computer. Surprisingly, after offering today’s caller a not-so-pleasant response before slamming down the land-line hand-set, the same number has called now five more times. What part of “you are a scammer, get a real job” — with a few choice words added — do these shysters not comprehend?
After contacting Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office and speaking with Sherrie, she deemed the scam of using a local area code from another continent as “spoofing.” This staff member suggested using the call-block feature when repetitive calls from an illegitimate source are received or not answering when the same number appears via caller ID.
As my mother has mentioned multiple times, “computers will be the downfall of our economy.” Considering she has never operated a laptop computer or texted, and possesses limited understanding of the difference between a land-line and a cellphone, sometimes I think she might be somewhat accurate in her prediction.
Mariann Main is a Delaware native, journalism undergraduate of Ohio State University, and has a master’s degree in counseling. She can be reached with commentary or questions at MariannMain@gmail.com.