Scammers are constantly trying new tactics to scam and prey on internet users. The latest? Technical Support Scams. Scammers are tricking people into thinking their equipment has serious issues, like a computer virus or malware. They usually ask you to call them so that they could “fix” these nonexistent issues by having you pay them fees through cash apps that are difficult to reverse the charges.
How do you spot technical support scams?
Scammers have many ways to reach you. Phone calls, emails and website pop ups are among their favorites because they actually work. Here’s what to look for to avoid falling for a technical support scam.
Phone Call Tech Support Scams
How they work: You’ll receive a phone call from someone claiming they are calling you from a reputable tech company and that they have received a diagnostic alert from your computer claiming you have a serious issue. They proceed to ask you for remote access and “run diagnostic software” to show you the issues your pc has. This is obviously all fake, then they try to get you to pay for a service fee to fix the issues on your pc.
What to look for: Tech support companies don’t usually call you and instead help you when you need them. If you get a phone call from someone talking about your computer or device having malware or virus issues, hang up.
Email Tech Support Scams
How they work: Scammers can easily spoof email addresses. In other words, they can send you emails that seem like they are from legit and reputable companies. They will try to convince you to click on some sort of link, email them back with information about your system or to have you call them for further assistance.
What to look for: Again, authentic tech support personnel don’t often email you regarding your computer’s performance. Look for bad grammar and poorly written unprofessional emails. You can also check for poor quality logos and images of reputable companies. If they are trying to have you call a phone number, you can google the phone number and will most likely find that it has reports of abuse or spam.
Website Pop Ups
How they work: You may end up on a suspicious website from time to time and get a pop up saying something about your pc being infected with a virus or malware. They often try to disguise the pop up like a system message or antivirus software. They will most likely try to get you to call a phone number or click to download that usually leads to harmful malware.
What to look for: Again, no reputable technical support team will have you call them for anything related to computer service. Look for spammy looking buttons, text and colors. Immediately close out of any website that shows you this type of pop up and run a scan through your trusted antivirus software.
Tips to avoid falling for technical support scams
- Pay special attention to bad grammar, bad spelling and strange language. Most of these attempts are not well planned by scammers. They just try to spread their net as far and wide as they can and as quickly as possible to try and catch people off guard.
- As mentioned above, authentic technical support teams do not ask you to call them. If you see these types of messages, search the number online and look for reports of fraud.
- If you really are in need of tech support, make sure you are calling the company’s authentic phone numbers.
- You should shy away from providing others your credit card information online or via phone. You should also try to never use cash transfer apps since reversing these transactions are nearly impossible.
What to do if you think your computer might be infected
If you suspect your computer to really have some sort of virus or malware issue, you should first check if there are any software updates for your operating system. Then, run a deep scan with your favorite antivirus software. If there are serious issues, consider hiring a reputable service or taking your computer to a reputable technician or tech support service.
How do I report a tech support scam?
If you were contacted or found a tech support scam attempt online, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission. This can help tremendously as they can build cases against top scamming organizations and take them down.