Being scammed is more and more the norm of this technologically based culture. I hear about it all the time, have seen its effects with others, myself in a few situations and clients who have shared their stories. I do not consider myself scam naive and have done my best at keeping up with security issues. The rug was jerked out from underneath my feet recently when I found myself the victim of one of the “old” scams. The computer freezes, commands you not to shut it down and puts on a reputable Microsoft logo underneath the pop-up urgent request to call the Microsoft helpline which I did. I was simply buying movie tickets for that evening, looking forward to some leisure with my husband and within moments was hearing all about how my network wasn’t protected by the appropriate security. I let this unknown person take control of my computer to “fix” the problem which led into the cost of the security products I was buying. I kept going! My intuition was sending me warning signals but the panic which I was not fully aware of was running the show. It gets worse. The fees for all these fixes were $375 with all the “fees” and “taxes’ that were applied in the end – even with the “senior discount.” He wanted my checkbook account/routing numbers and I had it out before I stopped yet quickly he said, “No problem, we can go through your Amazon account.” Sounded somewhat legit (not really) so I did it. Amazon sent back an email questioning this purchase on Gold Coins, which is apparently a way to send money to a third party. He then told me to go back and change my password on Amazon to validate the charge.
I finally felt the sinking nausea of what was really happening. I put myself on hold and called the “real” Microsoft company which confirmed my body’s reactions. They told me to turn off my computer immediately and that I could be helped by them if I paid the fee of $149 for a year contract of service. It seemed I had no options and I paid it. I was referred to the New Delhi computer techs to trouble shoot my problem and hopefully fix it. Unfortunately, the language and background noise of his co-workers and the slowness of the process, it took me another 2 hours to hear that I needed to take it “into the store.” I assumed this meant the computer repair shop. I didn’t think there was a Microsoft store in Fargo, ND. He couldn’t clarify this when I asked him. By this time, it was 7 PM. I had started my movie ticket purchase at 2:30 that afternoon and was mentally exhausted not to mentioned full of muscle tension.
As the evening progressed, I became more aware of what happened on another level. I had let myself be victimized and was self-critical; chastising myself for being so stupid. Then I felt the anger – what right do people have to hurt others all in the name of control and money? Then, the awareness of past traumas experienced in my life…. When I was a teenager, when I was hurt and taken advantage of in my life. Slices of childhood memories before I had to grow up meander through with the mixed feelings of longing, joy and sadness. The real world keeps you on guard. Watch, always watch. I have the scenario of what I would have said to this perpetrator when I saw that his call was coming in after I shut down the computer and his cold reactions of ruining my system. Of course, I thought of his mother and what she would think of him doing this to someone. I wish I could have grabbed the call and give him a piece of my mind so to speak. I don’t think I’ve ever really done that. Mid-westerners act with the most reserve…. that’s the world I grew up in that anyway. As a therapist and one trained in critical incident debriefings, I knew the material. Living life assertively and with maturity is a life worth striving for. Faking that is difficult.
Recovering from this trauma began almost immediately. Knowledge helps for sure but it didn’t save me. I went to my stress tool bag and reached out to a few support people via text. Just knowing that they knew and were sending love made a difference. Next came my thoughts and focus on the bigger picture….my responsibility for panic and forgiving myself for not being perfectly composed/logical. Positive, positive and even more positive thinking about any good that could possibly be gained from this ordeal. In this phase I would suggest thinking before speaking to loved ones…. emotions can be easily projected. I tried to keep the excess negativity away from my spouse. He didn’t do anything. Venting is great, dumping all your complaints isn’t. I practiced one of the most powerful self-healing techniques that I use myself and teach to many of my clients and friends. It is called Ho’oponopono which is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. It consists of four statements: I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, Thank you. These energetic words, when said from the heart can be healing if not transforming. There is some quality You Tube videos that take you through the practice to use whenever you create stress for yourself. I do this practice along with EFT, a tapping strategy to use to help calm the body. There are certain points on the body that when stimulated help the body calm, when you combine tapping with emotion awareness and positive affirmations one can significantly lower stress levels in the body. These are practices that are easy to learn and have a long track record of benefit. I use one of high frequency essential oils while I’m doing the tapping which only makes the practice better. Transform is one such oil blend.
I got a call from Microsoft the next morning and they went through the process of refunding my $149 given the circumstances. They were proactive on this and I am grateful…haven’t seen the refund on my card yet but I felt good about the effort. I also attended my church, shared my experiences and did some singing…these activities were good for my soul and a great positive distraction which is another tool in the bag. I also reached for my healing essential oils such as Lavender Vera and others supportive for the nervous system. It’s always good to have some basic essential oil knowledge when you can really use it! This afternoon I got a good walk in and went to the movie I had hoped to go to yesterday. Therapy for the mind. My computer is non-functional and I assume it will be a rather big fix not to mention any other fall out from being hacked. Even though things aren’t back to normal, I feel hopeful that they will be soon. The computer repair man reiterated how easy it is to fall victim and how clever they can be to dupe the public. “They keep doing it because people pay them money.” He said if there are no global regulations of the internet these kinds of activities will continue. Bottom line – Be aware, do your best to keep up be logical and Be Kind to yourself if it happens to you. Still, I wonder about the hackers and how they reconcile their behaviors. I’ll send them the Ho’oponopono message energetically. That, I can do.
Six months later – I have retained the awareness of my experience and been able to assist others caught in the same computer trap. I’ve worked on the emotion of frustration and learned that this emotion connects with many other negative feelings. How have I worked on this emotion? I regularly visit my own stress tool bag and look around for any new ones that might be effective. The one I found for this emotion was a book called Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza. He highlights specific steps one can take to be who you were born to be, not taught to be. Powerful and transforming if that’s the tool you choose. I challenge readers to create their own stress tool kit. Let me know if I can be of assistance.