The “Tech Support” scam has been plaguing individuals and businesses for years.
And because it’s been successful for so many scammers, this scam is going to stick around.
But don’t worry! You can protect yourself from this scam by knowing what to look out for and what to do to minimize the damages if you do fall for it.
The scam is pretty simple to understand.
First, you either get a popup on your computer or a phone call from someone claiming to be from a well-known software company.
They state that there is a very dangerous virus on your computer.
Then, they’ll tell you to either give them money directly or access to your computer to clear the virus.
There are a few different ways for them to do the actual “scam,” but here are a few of the most common:
- Credit Card Information – they claim that they can fix the problem and rid your computer of the virus, but they need your credit card information to pay for it. Which they, of course, steal.
- Remote Access – they say that to fix the problem, they need to have remote access to your computer or network. They may even say they can do it for free because of how nice they are or to help you out. Either way, once they have access to your computer, your information will be stolen.
- Malware – they direct you to download an “anti-virus,” which is the actual virus. This will give the scammers access to sensitive data like passwords, usernames, and credit card information.
- Sell Software – they’ll try to sell a repair service or software that will fix the problem. This service either does absolutely nothing or is commonly free elsewhere.
- Enrollment – they tell you to enroll in a computer maintenance or warranty program, which will cost you money and do absolutely nothing.
- Redirect – or they’ll redirect you to a website where they’ll either attempt to download an actual virus, get your bank information, or otherwise access your sensitive information.
How to Spot
The big, glaring alarm that should go off right away is that software support just doesn’t call you because they “found” a virus on your computer. It just doesn’t work that way.
Other than that, they’ll try and push action that needs to be taken right away. Urgency is the name of the game. When you feel like you must act immediately, you’ll be much less likely to think things through and see the fraud.
Another way to spot this kind of thing is that the person on the other line will be express, in some way, that they are, in fact, doing you a “favor” and even go as far as to insult you for not accepting it.
How to Protect Yourself
The best way to protect yourself is to simply hang up whenever you get a call like this. Ignore caller ID; ignore how believable they are. Just hang up the phone and move on.
For the pop-ups you may get, ignore them. NEVER click on a pop-up that’s claiming there is a computer problem.
Real anti-virus software isn’t sold like that!
What to do if you are Scammed
First, delete any and all malware from your computer and contact a trusted security professional – they may have new information about the current iteration of the virus.
Next, change all passwords that were compromised, no matter where you use them.
If the compromised computer is connected to a network, you need to check every single computer for anything left behind. Even the most minor thing can be the way in the scammers need.
If your credit card number was stolen, or you purchased a fake product, immediately ask your credit card company to reverse the charges and, if you must, cancel the card.
Keep a VERY close eye on your financial statements; instead of one big purchase, there may be several smalls transactions in an attempt to remain off the radar.
The tech support scam is popular because people keep falling for it. Unfortunately, for businesses, it can cost a lot more than just a one-time fraudulent purchase.
Businesses are only as secure as their weakest link, so make sure you share this article with your team!
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