I received a phone call from a company called Omni Support who said I had viruses and was hacked. I already have AVG on my system and it was running slow. They showed me foreign company access to my computer. They also showed me files that appeared not safe. I allowed them to clean things up but as they were I saw a lot of file transferring and I am not sure that is normal. When they were done they said I needed to restart my system and wait 15 minutes before I signed back in. I have not done so and am scared to try to restart as I am in fear they have loaded something on my system. Can you assists me?
Oh gosh, I hate to get questions like this, because the answer is that of course you’ve been scammed. How would they have ever known you had any viruses or anything on your computer to call you in the first place? If you do have any software that was keeping them notified, that’s alarming, but if I can be blunt, the fact that you are sufficiently gullible that you let strangers remotely access your computer and manipulate your file system is the real problem here, I’m sorry to say. Vigilance and skepticism are the order of the day, unfortunately.
Problem is, they used what’s known in the biz as social engineering to trick you and let them access your system remotely and it’s something we’re all susceptible to because we all want to believe people tell the truth, so if someone calls up or talks directly to you, it’s hard to believe that they’re lying. But in this case, a quick Google search of “Omni Support scam” would have revealed that they’re so widespread with their remote-access support scam that Microsoft Corporation itself recently sued them. Read about it here: Microsoft sues Omnitech Support. Definitely not a promising sign that they’re legit.
Be that as it may, you did grant them access to your system and they have definitely not just grabbed some of your files, but quite likely installed some sort of malware and “backdoor” software on your computer too. In fact, it’s quite possible that they’ll now call you up every 90 days or so and charge you $100 or more to “clean out your computer again”.
As a result, I think it’s time for you to triage the damage. Do you have tax returns on your system? Do you have banking statements? Social security number in some letters? Whatever personal information you have, it’s time to do a candid risk assessment and likely cancel all of your credit cards that might be affected. Call the issuing bank and just ask for replacements, they now do this all the time and it’ll be free.
I’d also suggest you enroll in a program like Lifelock to monitor your credit reports for the next 6-12 months to ensure that they don’t sell your personal data to a worse scammer and have you get even deeper in trouble.
And in terms of your computer, I would go to somewhere like Geek Squad (at your local Best Buy) or a similar trusted repair facility and tell them the whole story. You’ll want them to back up your data and re-install your operating system to ensure nothing lurks in the dark corners of your hard drive. I certainly would assume at this point that your computer has been compromised and is unsafe to use as-is.
So sorry this happened and a pox on people and companies that scam us users with their fear tactics and social engineering. We need to be skeptical and vigilant, but they need to go to jail. This process is unfortunately going to be a pain, but it’s doable and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
And for the rest of you, please read this as a cautionary tale and never, ever believe anyone on the telephone when they say they need access to your gear, want you to install something, etc. Write down their number, call them back, have them prove they are part of the company they claim they’re associated with, etc. An ounce of skepticism is worth ten pounds of after the fact repair!