How to Recognize and Avoid Tech Support Scams


Many of us use our computers every single day, without understandinghow they work. Tech support scammers are aware of this vulnerability and take advantage of it. Moreover, tech support scams usually take the form of phone calls or pop-ups on your computer. Familiarizing yourself with the signs of such a scam will hopefully help you avoid falling for these tricks.

What is a Tech Support Scam?

This type of scam involves someone scaring victims into paying for computer maintenance that they don’t need. The scammer first plants fear into the victim’s mind by telling them that their device will no longer function without these mandatory repairs. They may also claim that you have a virus that is stealing your data. To make the necessary repairs, the scammer will either ask you to transfer money to them, give them remote access to your computer, or give them your confidential information.

Phone Calls

Scammers will often call their victims and claim to be a tech support agent from Microsoft or another well-known company. This scheme primarily targets older adults, who tend to answer phone calls from unknown numbers more frequently than younger people.

During these phone calls, the scammer will claim to have found malware on the victim’s computer. They will say that they need a credit card number to proceed with the repair. The scammer sometimes will request payment via gift cards,Bitcoin, reloadable credit cards, or a wire transfer. They do this because these methods of payment are more difficult to trace and cancel.

Pop-Up Scams

A pop-up window will occasionally appear when you are browsing the Internet. A pop-up may show up if you mistype a URL or click on a spam link.The ad may look legitimate, with an icon from your anti-virus software or operating system. The message on the ad may be in bold or capital letters to catch your attention. Typically, it will indicate a vague problem that is wrong with your computer and give you a number to call. 

When the target calls this number, they will reach the scammer. The scammer will usually ask the target to install remote access software and grant the ‘technician’ access to the computer.When the individual has control of your computer, they can plant malware that will track your confidential information, such as SSN and bank account number.

How to Avoid Tech Scams

The most important thing to remember is that a legitimate tech support agent would never contact you unsolicited. To receive service from them, you would need to initiate the contact. They would also never ask for payment in the form of gift cards, reloadable credit cards, or Bitcoin.

Therefore, you should keep your anti-virus software up to date at all times. Make sure to run scans often and remove malware immediately. If you believe that a scammer has obtained access to your computer, you may need to reset your device. 

When receiving a suspicious call from an unknown number, the easiest thing you can do is simply hang up. Moreover, you should not engage with the person on the phone, as they likely know what to say to keep you interested. If it were a legitimate company trying to contact you, they would use other methods to do so.

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