How to Avoid Tech Support Scams
Tech support scams are a common fear for almost every Internet user. Whether you’re a computer novice or a tech savvy wiz, those scary pop ups urging you to call in for support seem convincing. Scammers are getting smarter, which means their tactics appear more and more official.
How Tech Support Scams Work
The scenario for a tech support scam is surprisingly common:
Step One: Often, the victim will receive a call, email or pop up message from someone who claims to be working for a reputable company, like Microsoft or Apple.
Step Two: After using enough technical jargon to convince you that there’s an issue with your computer, they’ll request remote access to resolve the issue or try to sell you shoddy software that could make your computer more vulnerable to attacks.
DO NOT LET THEM!
Once they access your computer or financial information, they can cause a whole mess of issues. They can adjust your settings to make your computer more vulnerable to attacks, add malware to access your passwords or charge your bank account without your permission.
If you get a random message from a person claiming to offer tech support, be wary and follow these tips to avoid getting scammed.
How to Spot a Tech Support Scam
Although you may receive a legitimate message from your software company regarding a system update, there are telltale ways to spot if you’re interacting with a scammer:
– The person you are interacting with is insisting there is an issue with your computer, although it’s been working fine.
– They may request that you open some files so they can check your computer, then tell you there’s an issue with the file (when there isn’t).
– They use a lot of technical terms to confuse you into thinking there’s an issue with your computer that you need them to resolve.
– They try to sell you software that doesn’t sound familiar (because it doesn’t exist) or that you can get for free elsewhere.
– They insist that you need to install their software into your computer to resolve the issue. In reality, it’s probably malware that gives them access to your sensitive information, like usernames and password.
– They ask for your financial information, like your credit card number or bank account info.
– They request to access your computer remotely.
What To Do When You Hear From A Potential Tech Support Scammer
Now that you know what to look out for, what do you do if you receive a message from a scammer? Well, there are many ways to handle the situation, but our number one piece of advice is to avoid interacting with them at all.
– Hang Up the Phone: If you receive an urgent call from a “tech support” company wanting to discuss issues with your computer, hang up immediately. Don’t trust caller ID to see if they are from a legitimate company. Scammers can use technology to make it seem as if their calls are coming from wherever they’d like.
– Ignore Pop Ups: Real pop ups from your security software will ask you for simple things, like permission to update. Rarely will they require you to call a number to resolve an issue. If you receive a warning advising you to call a support company, ignore it.
– Contact Your Security Software Company: We realize it’s not so easy to ignore a message that your computer is at risk. If you are concerned, then contact your security software company directly to make sure everything is operating the way it should. Again, don’t rely on caller ID or the number provided in the pop up. Instead, search for the company’s phone number online or refer to your software package or receipt.
– Avoid Providing Any Information: If you do find yourself on a suspicious phone call, NEVER provide your password or allow anyone to access your computer.
How to Reverse the Effects of a Tech Support Scam
Sometimes, you may not realize you were the victim of a scam until it’s too late. If that’s the case, you still have a chance to protect yourself.
– Erase the Malware: If you downloaded something suspicious during your interaction with a scammer, update or download security software from a trusted source. Run a scan and delete anything that appears as an issue.
– Change Your Password: Update any passwords that you shared with the scammer, including accounts that have the same password.
– Reverse the Charges: If you provided payment information before finding out the service was a scam, contact your credit card company. Explain the situation and they should reverse the charges. Track your statements and report any additional charges that you didn’t make.
Falling victim to a tech support scam can be scary, but if you’re armed with the right knowledge, you may never have to face that dreaded fear. If you’ve experienced a call with a suspected tech support scammer, report it to ftc.gov/complaint.
To further protect yourself and your computer from an unwanted tech support scammer, consider investing in computer preventative maintenance with a qualified company, like West County Computers. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!