Tech Support Scams
It’s often funny when you hear about tech support scams. Calling into a tech support center from a land line seems innocent enough, but it can quickly turn sour. When a customer calls to report a problem with their computer, it’s often easy to just disconnect without taking the time to answer questions. Here are some signs that you need to investigate before choosing to resolve the call with a company representative.
First of all, you should never give away any confidential information over the phone. If a caller insists that your computer needs a virus scan, hang up. Even a tech support call that you’re not expecting is likely a scam, whether the number is local or sounds legitimate. These scammers usually use very distorted caller ID info to seem legitimate or even local companies. They’ll tell you that your PC is “booting up”, or they’ll claim that malware is on your system.
Another common scam is the “fake antivirus” scams. If you call into a tech support center, you might be greeted with pop-up messages that claim that your PC is infected with a virus or spyware. Don’t fall for these promises; they are just advertising gimmicks. Again, tech support doesn’t give out free security software to consumers; it’s illegal and unsolicited. But if you have an account on a trusted provider, you might receive a free update or free security software.
Computer error messages often come in as part of a remote access program. Often the caller id in these messages will show that the person is part of a remote access program. This scam often targets IT tech support professionals because their work involves installing and configuring remote access programs. The attacker is hoping to gain access to your personal data or proprietary information. Often, victims are given the name and log in password after typing in these credentials. Other times, victims are told that they need to visit a specific webpage in order to gain access to their data.
A third common tech support scams target individuals who attempt to troubleshoot computers that aren’t working properly. They often promise that a certain Windows program will run properly, only to find that it keeps rebooting or being restarted. If the caller ID shows that the person is part of Microsoft, the scam is likely related to computer viruses. Just as computer viruses cause computers to reboot, tech support services that claim to fix a Windows problem also infect computers that aren’t running properly.
Other tech support scams that are prevalent in 2021 are spamming for additional services or products. As soon as a tech is called, scammers will send him or her multiple messages trying to sell him or her something else. For example, if a user calls to ask a question about a particular Windows feature, the scammers might tell the victim that he or she needs to purchase this new feature. However, if the user were to search for this feature online, he or she would be able to find it for free. The scammers then take advantage of this loophole and sell it to the customer for a profit. In some cases, the scammers give the customer items such as headsets, pens, and USB drives that cost more than the original price.
One of the newest tech support scams is the call center scam. This scam typically targets immigrants or people of low economic status living in India. In many cases, tech support agents pose as legitimate representatives of Microsoft, calling local call center agents in the United States to promote a product or service. The agents attempt to get the victim to purchase upgrades from the call center for products that aren’t even on the market.
All of the different tech support scams have one thing in common: Anyone can become a victim of these scams. Even those who are technically savvy can be taken advantage of. The best way to protect yourself from unsolicited phone calls is to research your potential callers before picking up the phone. If you receive threatening phone calls, do not return the calls or share any personal information with the caller.