The new school years begins so I figured I should write a blog post for planet CDOT. Now… the only question is what to write about? I had been working on trying to create a series of processing.js animations to illustrate how some algorithms works. But then while trying to figure out the best way to animate a merge sort, I got a call.
It was one of those long distance call rings which meant that it was either my parents or telemarketers…I hate being telemarketed to. I know that the telemarketers are just paid to do a job so I’m polite to them but I really don’t like getting calls from people I don’t know. Thus the conversations usually go: “Thank you for calling, can you please take me off your calling list.”. Usually they do this or at least say they will and hang up.
Anyhow, this person calls and since I didn’t recognize their voice I start on the “please take me off your list” line. They then proceed to tell me that they are calling because they are detecting that my computer is downloading a lot of viruses. And since I couldn’t believe my ears to the silliness of that statement I said “what?” over the phone. He then says something about detecting many viruses being downloaded onto my windows computer. (I have been using Macs for about 3 years now and I’m only ever on windows bootcamp partition when I absolutely have to be). So I insist that I highly doubt that my computer has a problem. He then insists that they have an “internet research company” that was detecting a large number of virus downloads to my computer. This exchange happens a few more times (I think he missed the part where I said I blew up my windows machine 3 years ago)
Although I was irritated about getting telemarketed/scammed at I thought it was really really funny at the same time. I really wanted to see where this was going. So I asked “So how are you able to associate my computer’s IP with my phone number”. And then he continuous on about whether or not I knew what a virus was and how my windows computer was infected. I then told him to hold because he was too funny and I had to record him for my students. A few seconds later he hung up. I guess that he didn’t want me using it to teach my students about viruses on windows. You would think he would love to have his research shared :P.
Now, having finished this conversation I wanted to know what was going on so I did a search on scams, viruses and telemarketing. Apparently there are some social engineering scams where these telemarketers would try to gain access to a person’s computer and then use it to steal credit card info. For myself, I knew this was a hoax from the start but I can’t help to think what would happen if this was someone like my parents who aren’t really comfortable with computers. Would they fall for it? How do we spread the word to our friends and family about these sorts of scams so that they are aware of them and won’t fall victim. I think I will start by writing this blog.