DEAR HELOISE: There is a new scam that's starting to pop up, and it has fooled a number of unsuspecting folks. It goes like this: Out of the blue, you suddenly cannot turn off your computer. It appears to be frozen. Then you get a call from either the manufacturer of your computer or your bank (or both). They tell you the amount in your checking or savings account and use some form of pretext to ask you for more information, such as passwords or other personal details.
This is nothing but a scam. No one should be asking you for your password or any other personal information. A scammer will tell you they want to protect you and your account from scams, but this is the scam! So, beware.
What should you do if this happens to you? Don't respond to their questions, and don't give them any information -- and I mean no information! Tell them you were just heading out the door due to an emergency and ask for a number to call back once you get home.
Don't answer any questions, and don't listen to any reason why they won't give you a phone number to call back. Don't let them push or pressure you into giving out information. Just hang up on them. Close out your computer if you can and take it to a repair shop. Have it stripped clean and change your bank account information immediately.
-- Brenda W.,
DEAR READERS: What should you do if you get a call from someone and they want information about you?
Take it easy, and don't panic, no matter what they say. Scammers want to scare you into doing something rash and immediate. Slow down and take a deep breath.
Do not share personal information. I can't stress this enough.
Do not tell people when or where you are vacationing on social media. Post pictures only when you return.
Shut down accounts you rarely use.
Do not share financial information online. Have less personal information and less of your future plans on various social sites.
Allow automatic software updates only from your device's manufacturer or if you know specifically who is contacting you.
Use safe payment methods, and never pay with gift cards.
Have an up-to-date software and antivirus protection plan to keep you safe from malware.
Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email