In a recent twist, scam artists are using the phone to try to break into your computer. They call, claiming to be computer techs associated with well-known companies like Microsoft. They say they’ve detected viruses or other malware on your computer to trick you into fiving them remote access or paying for software you don’t need.
How Tech Support Scams Work
Scammers have been peddling bogus security for years. They set up fake websites, offer free security scans, and send alarming messages to convince you your computer is infected. Then they try to sell you software to fix the problem.
The latest version of the scam begins with a phone call. Scammers can get your name and other basic information from public directories. They might even guess what computer software you’re using.
Once they have you on the phone, they pretend to be associated with well-known companies or use lots of technical terms. They may ask you to go to your computer and perform a series of complex tasks. Sometimes, they target legitimate computer files and claim that they are viruses. They may:
- Ask you to give them remote access to your computer and make changes to your settings that could leave your computer vulnerable.
- Try to enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program.
- Ask for credit card information to bill you for phony or free services.
- Trick you into installing malware that steals sensitive data.
- Direct you to websites and ask you to enter your credit card number.
If You Get a Call
If you get a call from someone who claims to be a tech support person, keep these tips in mind:
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- If you aren't sure, hang up and call the company on a number you know is genuine.
- Don’t give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.
- Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller.
- Online search results might not be the best way to find technical support or get a company’s contact information. Scammers sometimes place ads online to convince you to call them.
- Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support.
- If a caller pressures you to buy a product or says there is a subscription fee associated with the call, hang up.