I was happily browsing Neopets when I got a rather disturbing warning on my computer that it was infected with a keylogger Trojan program and that I needed to run Vista Home Security to quarantine and remove it. I did. It said that my subscription had expired and I needed to purchase the program again to be able to use it. Now, I am not naive, I don't fall for scams but this thing looked 100% legit, right down to the BBB / Better Business Bureau tag and all the usual things you see with a program like this. I tried to get online but it blocked me and prevented me from getting on any site except G-Mail. Compound that with the thought of my bank accounts getting cleaned out, my Neopets account getting raided and all my personal information being compromised and I was one stressed out chick.
Thankfully I had access to another computer and was able to get in to my accounts to check them. That's when the emails started arriving. One after the other letting me know that I made a purchase using my debit card. I usually find them annoying but in this case, well, I was more than a little happy that I elected to get an email about it. I called customer service and found that eleven charges had been made to my account, $59.95 each. They were pending but the money was already out of my account. To make matters even worse, they started attacking my PayPal account too but only one charge went through on that. Suffice it to say, I feel like a complete and total moron for falling for this kind of scam but if it happens to you, here are some things you need to do.
- Don't lose your head. My bank said that they are almost certain that the funds will be put back in my account. I only use that specific card for three stores so they saw that I was not someone that just went all crazy then tried to get a charge reversed. Even so, I am out all that money until the situation is resolved. $700.00 might not be a lot of money to some people but it is to me.
- Know your bank customer service number in case you ever have to call. I have it in my cell phone in case I ever lose my backpack or it gets stolen. Even if you don't know your account number, as long as you can give them your social security number and a ballpark amount of your balance or even the last charge you made '" that should be enough for them to help you.
- If you get some mystery virus that is asking you to buy a program, make sure it is legit. Mine kept trying to run a file called exd.exe and when I would shut it down it would start right back up. It's also a good thing to have some type of software installed to let you know that you protected. Of course that also means getting critical updates.
- Love your local IT guy. I have a friend that lives in another state and he gets about one or two frantic text messages from me a year when I do something foolish. Suffice it to say, this one tops them all.
- If you do find yourself the victim of a scam like this, don't just sit there and take it. Contact your credit card company and get the police involved if it is over $500.00. I am patiently waiting for an officer to come and do a report for me. I know that it won't really do much to resolve the situation because the payee is in another state but at least I know that by filing a report it might help if more people in the area are scammed.