A couple of weeks ago, my lovely neighbor, who is an 80 year old lady living by herself called me to look at her misbehaving computer. She calls me from time to time for the smallest of issues like an ad blocking her view on the browser, printer not printing the right font, general simple things which are still a bit complicated for her to deal with. I stop by and fix those issues and that’s that.

This time, however, what I saw on her computer shocked me. It has a window of Teamviewer with remote access enabled on it. I was surprised that she opened herself up to someone snooping and watching her screen. I quickly disconnected the internet and uninstalled Teamviewer.

When I asked her how the hell she installed that software on her laptop, given that she can not even change her browser settings on her own. She just said that someone from “Telstra” ( Australia’s leading telco) called her and told her that her something is wrong with her computer and they want to fix it. She has to follow her instructions and it will be taken care of. Typical subcontinent based scammers. Those bastards!! I know, they are my people!! :-(!!

But even then, I thought it’s pretty odd that they walked her through the steps of downloading, installing and configuring something like TV on her own. Mind you, they didn’t even have her email address to send her the “download” link, nor were they on an internet chat. They just randomly called her and walked her through the steps. While you had to physically open a browser, type the URL, find the download link, and then find it in the downloads folders…you know the drill. That process was way too complicated for someone like my neighbor whose only use of her laptop was to send emails to her family and print church newsletters. So the scammers just had to convince people to do these simple things, a few mouse clicks, and their computers suddenly become vulnerable.

However, after this incident happened, I found out that in most instances, the scammers don’t even have to get the Teamviwer installed on the victims’ computers. In most cases, someone in their family has already installed it for them, for the purpose of helping them remotely when there is a need. And these scammers are just piggybacking on that, and seeing if TV is already installed. If it is, their work is half done already and they just have to get the users to fire it up and share the access code.

The lesson here is that if you are installing teamviewer or similar software, you have to train them hard no to use it unless YOU are the person on the other end.

I really hope people stop falling for these scams. Especially the dangerous ones like this one where your entire computer screen is visible to the other person. They can record your banking details, credit card numbers including the CVV numbers and wreak havoc with your lives.

The governments and Telcos should do a better job at educating general public and the less computer savvy to the perils of such scams. Not everyone has a friendly neighbour with a bit of time to spare.

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