There are lots of scams being perpetrated in the world today, and one of the most common has to do with tech support.
Simply put, scammers call unsuspecting individuals and claim there’s a problem with your computer, then offer fake solutions in order to scam you and take your money. The people on the other end of the phone are good at what they do, even having a phone number that matches a legitimate computer company such as Dell or Microsoft. This is where the problem starts.
How the Scams Work
If you’re not tech-savvy, these scams are easier to fall for, but even techies can be fooled by some of these schemes because they are so well-executed. It usually starts with someone calling you, often with a phone number that looks legitimate, telling you they’ve noticed a problem with your computer that, in reality, doesn’t exist. Next, they’ll offer to “fix” the problem for you, usually for a fee.
There are several problems with this and if you don’t catch it soon enough, you could end up giving them personal or financial information or inadvertently allow them to install unwanted programs onto your computer.
One of the things they can do is ask you if they can have control of your computer remotely in order to “fix” a certain problem. Once you give them this access, they can do anything they want while they’re on your computer.
They can steal valuable information regarding your account and your credit and debit cards, or even worse, they can install ransomware, malware, or other programs that can damage your device or even your data. Once they have access to your computer, they can do just about anything.
Legitimate Ottawa IT Systems Will Never Try to Trick You
legitimate IT companies can help you fend off these scammers, not to mention provide you with some tools to help you avoid scammers who try to install dangerous programs onto your computer. The right IT professionals can help you learn how some of these scammers work so that you know what to look for should one of them call you. The truth is, if you learn what these scammers may say to you and you’re on alert, you’re much less likely to be scammed.
So, is it really possible to be on the alert for these scammers? Actually, it is. Once you know what to be on the lookout for, you’ll recognize immediately that it could be a scam, lessening the chances that you’ll actually fall for the scam. Here are some things you can look for when a potential scammer calls:
- Fake display error messages appear on the websites you’ve visited. They’ll have support phone numbers that make it seem like you have to call them immediately because there’s a problem with the computer.
- They put your browser in full-screen mode, then display pop-up messages that don’t go away, which causes you to become scared that you need to contact their support hotline immediately. This can also lock up your browser and cause even more problems.
- If you answer the phone and engage with the scammers, they’ll offer fake solutions for the “problems,” but only if you pay them a one-time fee or a subscription to a “support service” first. This one is extremely common, so always be wary if they offer their services for a fee.
The thing is, if you’re at work, and you’re on your computer, you’re likely very busy, which means it might be difficult to catch some of these scammers. They know that, and they use that tidbit to take advantage of you. They do it mostly for two reasons: to get money out of you or to install dangerous software on your computer. Both are extremely dangerous, but once you know what to look for, it becomes a little easier to recognize the red flags.
Can You Do Something Even If You’ve Been Tricked?
If you’ve already fallen for a scam regarding your computer, there are still some things you can do. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get all of your money back, but it will alert the authorities to what has happened. Here are a few tips to remember if a tech support scammer already has your personal or financial information:
- Uninstall all of the applications that the scammer asked you to install.
- Go to the Recovery options and reset your device if you ended up giving the scammer access to your computer.
- Run a full scan so that malware can be removed immediately.
- Apply all security updates the moment they become available. Check to see if any of these updates were available recently so you can know which ones have been applied.
- Change all of your passwords as soon as possible.
- Call your credit card company immediately and contest the charges. Brief them on what happened so they are aware of the situation. You’re also better off if you cancel the card and replace it.
- Notify the authorities and give them as much information as you can about what happened to you.
Keep in mind legitimate IT companies can help make sure you have the tools necessary to know what to look for when it comes to scammers. Legitimate companies will not ask you for money to correct computer problems. They are also very unlikely to want access to your keyboard remotely so they can “work” on the problem themselves.
Tech support scammers can do some scary things, but if you know what to look out for, these things are much less likely to occur.
If you consider resetting your computer to recover everything, it can be a bit time-consuming. The thing is, it’ll be worth it in the end and is often your best option, especially when you keep getting pop-up messages and fake error codes on your computer screen.