I cannot say I got anything less than what I deserved...nevertheless, I want to save you from this dumb mistake. So, here goes.
This weekend, I was goofing around on the computer, trying to find more photos from the amfAR gala. Suddenly, my screen went nuts with virus warnings. It looked VERY official. Microsoft was clearly trying to tell me something was wrong. Alert! Alert!
Not sure if it was exactly this screen, but it was something similar.
Again, VERY official looking. But still, I was concerned. What was this "Security Protection" thing? Why had I never heard of it? Was it really a Microsoft product? I tried to do a quick search to find out, but the virus had disabled my Internet access. Whenever I tried to open Internet Explorer, I got an error message.
"Hmm," I thought. "It has been a while since I updated my virus protection." I absolutely detest my crappy Compaq computer, purchased in fall 2008 and a lemon from day one. I'd been so loath to spend one more dime on it that I'd avoided updating my Norton subscription or fixing my flickering screen.
Stupidly, I decided it was time to buy some long-overdue virus protection. How thoughtful of Microsoft to offer it to me just when I needed it! It seemed logical that they'd have a product that would become available at the moment your system was compromised.
I typed in my credit card number and pressed enter. The next screen told me to download the software. If I had any questions, I could contact them at email@example.com. WHAT? Billingpayonline? What kind of bogus address is that? Who knew what might be in the file they wanted me to download. I smelled a rat.
I shut down my computer and headed immediately to Best Buy, where I learned my best option was to purchase their $199 yearlong subscription to tech support. The screen issues would cost at least $79 to evaluate, but the clerk wasn't sure if they'd be able to fix it. So, basically, I was at $300 to keep using my crapo Compaq. Meanwhile, a new Dell was on sale for $379, but it was out of stock and would have to be ordered.
Unwilling to deal with a major purchase right before a major international trip, I decided to table the issue until I return from my vacation in Brazil. I've had some good times trying to get the $59.99 charge taken off my credit card statement. Turns out it's not considered fraud if you type in your credit card number yourself. Huh! Imagine that!