"Hello, my name is <whatever> and I am calling from Windows or HP or Dell. It seems your computer is infected with virus and needs attention. Our Microsoft Certified Technicians will fix it for you"
Isn't this sounds familiar? You might have received this type of call once in a while. In this post we will talk about tech support scams and ways to avoid getting scammed.
Tech support scams are a million-dollar industry and have been around since 2008. Every day, many innocent people are tricked into spending hundreds of dollars for non-existent computer problems. And best part is there are no signs of these scams slowing down despite several actions taken by the Federal Trade Commission.
Usually the scammers call people in USA, Canada, UK and Australia using database obtained over the internet. The modus-operandi is very simple;
1. They pretend to be calling from big technology companies like Microsoft, HP, Dell
2. Take remote control of your computer
3. Show some alert screens
4. Collect big money running into 100's of dollars
These scammers use VoIP technology or toll free numbers which are available easily so their actual location cannot be traced. They also advertise on popular search engines, high traffic websites, place banners on popular websites. Some fake popups are also shown which shows your computer is infected by virus.
Once unsuspecting customer falls prey to these tricks, they take remote access of your computer and force install some 3rd party software which can further allow them to gain access anytime. These scammers show you standard windows event viewer or task manager screens and saying these are critical errors and if not taken care, you may lose your PC and data.
What to do?
- Prevention is better than cure. Just hang up on call if someone claims to be calling from Microsoft, HP, Dell, etc.
- If you have allowed remote access, immediately revoke it or restart your computer. This will throw them off.
- Change all your passwords as soon as possible.
- Never pay using wire transfer or direct deposit since you are protected using the credit card payments.
- Never click on popups or alerts while browsing. You may safely close all your browser windows, clear cookies and temporary files.
- Don't share your personal details like SSN, name, address, email, etc.
You should raise awareness among your friends and family and help spread this word.