If you’ve been the victim of a tech support scam, you’re not alone. The good news is that this dire situation can be resolved. The key is learning to spot them right away.
A tech support scam is the kind of internet fraud that has been on a steady rise. The scam works by trying to scare the hell out of you in order to get you to fall for it.
There are three ways this is executed:
1. cold calls
2. pop-up messages
3. incorrect search engine results.
You might receive a random phone call from someone saying they’re a tech from a major company, whose software you have. If they don’t call you, then you may see an alarming pop-up on the screen stating that your system has been infected with a virus. Tech support pop-up warnings occur when a user is browsing. The victim is viewing a website that contains links to related content, and when the user clicks on one of those links it redirects them to a website hosting the pop-ups. The main motives behind these scams are to extort money from the victim, while also installing malware like keyloggers or backdoor Trojans. This is how these cyber-criminals gain access to your personal information. The next thing you know, your important files have become corrupted, you lose all your photos, and your digital life is in shambles.
To fix this so-called technical issue, they need to you to download some support software, for which they’ll give you a special link. They then use that software to gain access to your system and make it appear your system is suffering from multiple viruses. When you see your screen flashing and strange diagnostics, they hope you are panicking. They’ll even go as far as claiming your system has been infected with illegal content and if not corrected, you’ll face criminal charges. Demands for credit card information follow immediately after. Once paid, they make it seem the problem is now fixed. To continue the scam, they’ll soon access your system to recreate the problem, this time offering a subscription for ongoing protection.
What’s your best bet for when some scammers like this call you? Just hang up. At this point, you’re only a phone number in their system and they’ll move to the next victim. By engaging with them, you allow them to target you. A real company will never randomly call customers like this. If a pop-up appears, immediately run an anti-virus scan. Don’t click the pop-up or call the number. This is one of the rare occasions when ignoring a potential problem is a wise move.