Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


October 8, 2012

Tidbits: Scammers know no boundaries

CROSSVILLE — The other night, I was home, minding my own business and taking care of some neglected house duties, when the phone rang.

The caller ID showed no number, and I answered hesitantly, knowing a telemarketer of some kind was on the other end and thinking, “How can I get off this call quickly, without being rude to someone just doing their job?”

My distress quickly turned to anger. The person on the other end responded to my “Hello” with what I can somewhat translate as, “Your computer is sending out viruses. You have a problem!”

I say somewhat translate because I couldn’t understand him. That’s what I gleaned after he repeated himself once or twice, using a company name I didn’t catch. When I started to understand, I decided to play dumb.

“Viruses? My computer isn’t even on right now. How can it be sending out viruses?”

I was quickly switched to another person, a woman this time, who tried again to explain they were calling because of problems with my Windows operating system.

Yes! My easy way out of this call.

“Windows? I don’t use Windows.”

The call ended without so much as a “thank you for allowing us to try and scam you out of your hard-earned money.”

The Microsoft phone scam has been going around for some time, so long that Microsoft has a warning on its website about it. They aren’t going to be calling you. If you have a computer problem, you’ll have to call them.

This scam preys on the technologically un-savvy in an attempt to get them to pay money for, at best, phony virus protection software. At worst, they take over your computer, steal your personal identity and use your IP address to send out viruses and SPAM without you ever being the wiser.

So, in case you were wondering, you should never allow a strange caller to take remote control of your computer.

And don’t count on caller ID to help you out. Mine showed an “unknown” number, but some scammers spoof legitimate numbers, having those show in the caller ID of the phone, to trick you out of personal information. Never give out personal information on an incoming call. Hang up and call the customer service number printed on billing statements, the company’s website or in the phone book.

There are other types of scams, too. Just last week, one of our local agencies had their email hijacked and a plea for help getting home from the Philippines was sent all over town. That agency quickly responded that they sent no such message and said recipients should disregard any message soliciting funds as they do not solicit funding by email.

There’s lots of other scams, like the “you won the lottery!” scam (you can’t win if you didn’t enter), the “I need help transferring millions out of my foreign nation” scam (commonly called the Nigerian scam, but other countries have been used), the “hey, I know we’ve never met other than this dating site, but can you give me money” scam, and more. I talked with folks not too long ago that were getting calls claiming to be their grandchildren needing money for bail. The person barely got a word in edgewise with the sad story that was told. But when the caller, a male, finally stopped, they responded with the fact they only had granddaughters and hung up.

The best defense against scams is to be vigilant in protecting your information. Once that information has been compromised, you could be in for years of pain and suffering after your identity is stolen and your credit history destroyed and savings wiped out. It’s also incredibly hard to prosecute because many of these scams originate in other jurisdictions, where our U.S. laws mean little.

Another good defense is to register with the national Do Not Call registry, though it has also been the subject of recent phone scams. Registration is free, and you should make the call yourself directly to the FTC. The Federal Trade Commission doesn’t use third parties to register consumers for the registry. Visit to learn more.

And when in doubt, just hang up the phone. Better to be rude than be victimized by a scam.

Text Only
  • Lion and the Lamb: A promised land?

    Back in biblical times there was a group of people who believed that God had promised them a segment of land on this planet that would be theirs forever. Who could have known back then that this ancient promise and territorial justification would be used by their descendants today to claim the same segment of land?

    July 29, 2014

  • We the People: Bring back the American dream

    Our economy continues to expand. The stock market is at record levels, yet many ask why so many of us are struggling?  Barely half of us believe the American dream is attainable.

    July 29, 2014

  • Tidbits: Taking a low-tech break

    Feeling increasingly strangled by my electronic leash, with phone, text messages, email, social media and a variety of other forms of communication always at my side, I took the weekend off.

    July 28, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Governing before and after mass corruption

    Laws in America were originally written simply. Every citizen could read them quickly and understand their meaning. The founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Constitution of the United States, none of which was longer than 4,500 words.

    July 28, 2014

  • We the People: The last dance

    Charlie Hayden’s last recording session with his early partner, Keith Jarrett, was in 2007.  The songs they played were mostly melancholy.  The second album coming from that session includes Weil’s “My Ship” and Porter’s “Every Time We Say Goodbye.” The dark ballad “Goodbye,” by Gordon Jenkins, was the final track.

    July 22, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Living in a pressure cooker

    The Gaza Strip, a small Palestinian territory about the size of Washington, D.C., has been in the news almost every day.  Its key location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea has attracted a number of occupying powers over the years, and it has  been at the center of much Middle East history.

    July 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: The excitement of election day

    On March 12, 1996, there were 427,183 votes cast in the presidential primary election. Among those votes was mine, the first vote I cast in an election, just two days after my 18th birthday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Raising the minimum wage

    My first job from which FICA was withheld was a minimum wage job, seventy-five cents an hour. And yes, even then no one could live on that little money. However, I was a high schooler living at home where my father provided room and board. The job gave me pocket money to buy gasoline, to take my girlfriend out for movies and burgers, and to buy tickets for baseball games.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Children on the move

    The news this past week has focused on the humanitarian crisis developing on our southern border. Thousands of unaccompanied children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras seeking to escape from the violence, human trafficking and extreme poverty in their countries have been entering the United States.

    July 15, 2014

  • We the People: Memo to gun rights groups

    The recent incident in California helps us understand why we cannot rely on mental health services alone to solve the problem of gun violence.

    July 15, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014