It happens all too often.
- gets an expected call from a computer technician
- see a tech support ad surfing the Internet or
- get a pop-up message out-of-the-blue that tells you to call tech support.
Any of these forms of contact could be scammers trying to convince folk that their computer is infected with a virus, malware or spyware. Should you take the bait, they will ask you to let them connect to your computer in order to “take care of” the issue.
In order to sound convincing, scammers may ask you if you have downloaded or installed any programs, games, music, documents, etc., opened any e-mail attachments, made any updates to your computer, inserted a USB or external drive or visited any unsecured websites.
They may also try to convince you that non-threatening files on your computer are infected. One actually rang us at the shop and tried this on me!
The scammer’s aim to send you into panic mode, enabling them access to your computer. From here, they may try to persuade you into paying for support services to repair some made-up problem or one they have created themselves whilst accessing your computer. Tech support scams attempt to get your money paying for services you do not need. Scammers often ask to be paid by a wire transfer, gift card, prepaid card, cash reload card or a money transfer app. These are all types of payments that are hard to retrieve, which is why they prefer them.
Once the scammer is in your computer they could also
- install programs to steal your data or personal information,
- make changes your computer settings
- disable existing antivirus software
leaving your computer vulnerable to later attacks.
How to avoid being scammed
- If you get an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be a tech support provider for your computer or software, simply hang up. Don’t rely on Caller ID for it to be a legitimate call.
- Do not click on tech support ads on webpages, pop-up messages or spam email.
- Shut down your browser to get rid of fake virus alert messages.
- Use reputable anti-virus software, and keep it updated. Run a scan immediately if you get a scam pop-up.
- Do not give anyone control of your computer unless it is a legitimate company or a trusted computer technician.
- NEVER give your bank information to someone who calls after you have purchased tech support asking if you were satisfied. It is likely a “refund scam.”
What to do if you have been scammed
- Update your computer’s security software, scan your computer and quarantine or remove any threats detected. If you need help with this, contact Canterbury Computer Services (03 313 3221) or another technician you trust. Do not rely on an online search or reviews.
- If you shared any passwords with the scammer, change them immediately. If you use the same passwords on any other accounts, change them and use a different password for each. As a precaution do this with all of your accounts regardless.
- You can also check BBC Scam Tracker℠ to search for scams and as well as report them.
What to do if you paid the criminal
- If you paid with a credit or debit card, notify your bank and cancel the charges immediately. Watch for fraudulent activity on your account going forward and cancel them accordingly.
Now that you know how to manage a tech support scam, share what you have learned with someone you know to help them from becoming a victim from this type of criminal fraud.
Feel free to share this email with your friends.