Technology has made our lives easier in so many ways, but it has also created opportunities for scammers. They take advantage of unsuspecting people using a technical support scam. In this article, we’ll discuss six tech support scams you should be aware of. Knowing about them can help you protect yourself, and your computer, and help keep you from getting scammed online. Let’s get started!
What are Technical Support Scams, and How Do They Work?
Technical support scams have been around for years, and are meant to steal your personal or financial information. Here’s how they work: tech support scammers contact you and claim to be from a well-known tech company like Microsoft or Apple. They say there’s a problem with your computer, and they need your help to fix it.
They might ask you to install malicious software that will give them access to your system, or they might try to get your credit or debit card information. Either way, they’re trying to steal your money. Don’t fall for it! Hang up the phone and report the scam to the proper authorities.
How Bad is the Problem?
Tech support scams are a problem that is growing more and more each year. Elderly adults are especially vulnerable to these scams, as they are often targeted by tech support scammers who pose as legitimate tech support staff. Victims of tech support fraud lose an average of $200, though some have lost thousands of dollars.
Common Tech Support Scams Businesses Face
Businesses that both offer and use technical support services are often the targets of scammers. Let’s take a look at some common scams businesses face and should be aware of.
1. Online Ads & Listings in SERPS
Scammers will place online ads and listings on search engine results pages (SERPS), often using the name of a legitimate company. They may also create a fake website that looks like the real company’s site. When potential customers click on the ad or listing, they’re taken to the scammer’s site or given a fake phone number to call. The scammer then tries to sell the customer unnecessary support services or software, or convince them to give up their personal or financial information.
2. Scam Programs
Scammers will create fake versions of legitimate software programs and offer them for download. These programs may contain malware that can infect your system, or they may be completely useless. Either way, the scammer is trying to get you to install their software so they can either steal your information or sell you unnecessary support services.
3. Suspicious or Unknown Pop-up Window
You’re browsing the web and a pop-up window appears, asking you to call a phone number for tech support. The message may say that your computer is infected with a virus or that there’s a problem with your account. Don’t call the number! These fake alerts are a scam designed to get you to give up your personal or financial information.
4. Phishing Emails or Text Messages
Scammers will send a phishing email or text message that appears to be from a legitimate company. They may say there’s a problem with your account or that you need to update your information. The message will often include a link to a fake website that looks like the real company’s site. Don’t click on the link! If you do, you may be taken to a site that will ask you for your personal or financial information. Or, the link may download malware onto your computer.
5. Scam Websites
Scammers will create fake websites that look like the real thing. They may use a similar domain name to the legitimate website or a slight misspelling. Or, they may create a subdomain of the real site (for example, support.example.com). When you visit the site, you may be asked to enter your personal or financial information. Or, you may be offered fake support services or software for download. Either way, the scammer is trying to steal your information.
6. Tech Support Phone Scams
This scam works by the scammer placing unsolicited phone calls to a business and pretending to be a computer technician from a tech support company. The scammer will then tell the business that they are experiencing problems with their operating system and that they need to take action immediately. The scammer then provides the business with one of the scam phone numbers to call. The business calls the number and reaches a person also pretending to be from tech support. The person on the other end of the line will then tell the business that they need to pay for tech support in order to fix the problem. The business will then be scammed out of money.
Tips for Avoiding Tech Support Scams
Here are four tips to help you avoid tech support scams:
- The customer initiates communication: Always remember that a legitimate company will never call you out of the blue to offer tech support services. If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from tech support, hang up!
- Reputable tech support companies: Do some research to make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate tech support company. Check the company’s website for official phone numbers and compare them using caller ID if you receive a “tech support” call.
- Don’t give out personal information: A legitimate company will never ask you for your password or credit card number. Be very careful about giving out any personal or financial information to someone you don’t know.
- Keep antivirus software updated: Be sure to keep your antivirus software up-to-date and run regular scans. This will help protect your computer from the malware that scammers may try to install.
How Do You Tell if it’s a Tech Support Scammer?
Knowing what legitimate tech companies do versus what scammers do is very important in avoiding becoming a victim of financial fraud. Be aware of requests for payment by cash reload card or wire transfer. These are both red flags that you’re dealing with a scammer. Also, remember that you can always proactively seek out tech support from a reputable company rather than waiting for someone to contact you.
What To Do if You’ve Already Been Scammed?
If you’ve already been scammed, the first thing you should do is call your credit card company. Explain the situation to the financial institution and ask them to cancel the charges. You should also change any passwords that you may have given out. Finally, be sure to run a scan of your computer with antivirus software to remove any malware that may have been installed.
How Do You Report a Tech Support Scam?
Reporting tech support scams to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is one way to help put a stop to these fraudulent activities. You can also report tech support scams to your state attorney general’s office.
How Do You Recover from a Remote Access Scam?
If you’ve been the victim of a remote access scam, recovering from the experience can be a challenge. The first thing you should do is change all of your passwords. You should also run a scan of your computer with antivirus software to remove any malware that may have been installed. Finally, be sure to contact your financial institution and explain the situation. They may be able to help you recover any money that was stolen from you.
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