Tech scammers know we’d be lost without our computers, and that we don’t always know what’s going on behind the screen - which is why they’ve been able to swindle millions from every day people across the world.
The Scam Goes Like This: You receive a random phone call from someone saying they’re from Microsoft, or an alarming pop-up appears on the screen, saying it looks like your system has been infected with a virus. To fix the problem, they need to you to download some support software, which they’ll give you a special link for. A technician then uses that software to gain access to your system and make it appear that your system is riddled with viruses. Flashing screens, mysterious diagnostics whizzing by, fabricated errors… they’ll do or say anything to make you panic. 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 payment information follow immediately after. Once paid, they simply stop fiddling with your system to make it seem the problem is fixed. To continue the scam, they’ll soon access your system to recreate the problem, this time offering a subscription for ongoing protection. They may also configure a special password on the system to prevent you from using it until you’ve paid them.
What to Do If You’re Targeted by A Tech Scam
1. Do not engage them in conversation. If you hear “We are calling from Microsoft…” or “This is Dell tech support…” or some variation thereof, hang up immediately. They will probably call back, but don’t answer. Make a note of the phone number so you can report them to the FTC. Note that the phone number is usually falsified and may appear to be a local number. CallerID is also usually faked, so don’t rely on that either. Despite this, it is helpful to have this information when filing a complaint.
2. Don’t taunt them. Just hang up. Right now, you’re only a phone number in their system and they’ll move onto the next – if you give them cause to target you personally, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation. Remember that they will often call back, even if you hang up on them.
3. If a pop-up appears on your screen, note the website you were on then restart your computer and run an anti-virus scan. Don’t click the pop-up or call the number. If you’re not certain you have antivirus or don’t know how to use it, give us a call, we’ll be glad to help.
4. You can report them to the Federal Trade Commission. Visit FTC.gov/complaint to submit a report.
What to Do If You’ve Already Been Scammed
It’s okay. It feels horrible, but you’re not alone and the situation can be corrected. Start by calling your financial institution to have the charges reversed and your card reissued. It’s easier than you might think and helps the authorities locate the scammers. Then give us a call and we’ll make sure they no longer have access to your computer. If you granted remote access to your computer or gave them any personal details, then you should assume that your passwords have been compromised and they should be changed as soon as possible. Note that this should be done on a clean, trusted computer in the event that a keylogger or other monitoring software was placed on your system.
Beware the Refund Scam:
If you paid for these so-called tech support services, then you might get a call about a refund; this call is likely a scam as well. Do not give the caller any personal or financial information. The refund scam works like this: Some time after a purchase (days, weeks, or months later), you receive a call to ask if you were satisfied with the service. If you say “No”, the scammer will then offer a refund. Or, the caller may say that the company is going out of business and giving refunds. The scammer eventually asks for your bank or credit card account number to process your refund. They might also request access to your bank account to make a deposit. But instead of putting money in your account, the scammer takes money from your account. If you get a call like this, hang up, and report it.
Don’t pay for fake tech support, get rock-solid IT support from Yellowstone Computing!