There’s a lot of stuff going on right now that you need to look out for. Recently a co-worker of my husband’s fell victim to the dreaded CryptoLocker ransomware.

Infections by this malware are currently on the rise. This is most often sent in spam emails with attachments, similar to the one below. It’s also shown up on false messages appearing to warn you that Google Chrome is out of date. This is where we once again give the advice to NEVER click on attachments from emails you don’t recognize.

ctbemail

The malware will encrypt your files and won’t let you into those files unless you pay the ransom. It will copy itself into the %temp% folder with a random, 7 character name, as well as set up a scheduled task to execute itself at system startup.  Once files are encrypted, you’ll get a pop-up that gives you a countdown and demands a ransom. Once encrypted, there is not a lot that you can do to recover the files. You could take a chance and pay the ransom, but there’s no guarantee that you can trust criminals.

Please, please, please be cautious about what you click on.

Another popular scam this time of year involves your taxes. Scammers have been making calls and sending e-mails telling folks they are in trouble with the IRS. This is pretty darn scary to hear. A friend of mine got the message and it scared her half-to-death. Now, she’s a former news reporter, so after a couple of minutes, she took a breath and realized it all sounded pretty fishy. The IRS certainly doesn’t robocall you if you’re in trouble.

croppedirsscam

These crooks are also using e-mail. There’s a scam e-mail going around with the subject line of “Identity Verification.”  The message tells you that you need to verify your tax information by following a link. The link takes you to a fake IRS website that asks for your personal information.

There’s also a fake refund scam where an e-mail states that the IRS wants to send you a refund, but they need your bank information.

fake-refund

The IRS does not e-mail you about tax problems. The also do not make phone calls without sending you a 5071C form first.  If you are worried about IRS issues, you can call 1-800-829-4922 and the IRS will direct you to the right person to ask.

We’ve also talked about computer phone scams many times before. The latest one involves calls from a company representing itself as Prime Technology or Prime Tech. The scammer claims that your PC has been hacked and that you have a virus. They want access to your computer to fix it and to sign you up for a protection plan. According to the BBB, they’ve charged some customers thousands of dollars for this alleged help.

Remember, no one is going to call your house and tell you something is wrong with your PC. They have no way of knowing that.

Stay alert, watch out for scammers, and make sure to warn your friends about these crooks!

~ Cynthia