A tech support scam is a form of fraud gaining momentum on the internet. The scammer tries to lure the victim in getting technical support he or she does not need. The victim pays the scammer by calling expensive phone numbers, paying a “solution” fee or buying anti-virus software which is not needed or even malicious.
The scam implements social engineering and fear tactics in order to get the victim to take the bait. Internet users can be approached by cold calls, pop-up messages and by search engine results.
Once scammers have the attention of a possible customer, they will ask to use your computer remotely. If a person gives the access to their computer, the fake support will launch a diagnostic test and will estimate a price to fix this problem. There are 2 well-known types of payments; one-time service, or monthly subscribtion after fixing the problem. This way scammers can extract a huge amount of money from their victims.
The signs of a tech support scam
The most common are the pop-up messages, indicating that there is a virus on your computer, and you must call or write an email. If the screen freezes after a pop-up message, shut down and restart your computer.
Technology companies will not approach you by calling or sending emails stating there is a problem with your computer. Usually, scammers will pretend to be working at known technologies company like Microsoft, Apple or Google. In this way they try to establish a trust to continue with the scam.
IT / support scam is a global which makes easier for people to profit around the globe. Therefore, you should look at the phone number they are referring to, usually Indian, the language they speak or even accent. If you find it suspicious, stop communication and contact someone you know.
The second part of the tech support scam is so called refund scam. After a while, the tech support will approach a customer and will state that they paid too much and they want to refund a part of the sum. They will use an excuse such as: firm is closing, or they are leaving the company. However, they will ask you to give all your bank details to send the money. If a person gives up the details, then the damage is significantly higher, until the victim realizes the money is lost.
What to do in case of a tech support scam
If you realized, you have been scammed by tech support stop all the communications with it. Do not try to ask for money back or get into conversations. If you let a scammer use your computer remotely, run the antivirus and delete anything that has a chance of being malicious.
If you do not have or you do not trust your anti-virus system, these are the most popular choices:
- Bitdefender Antivirus Plus 2020
- Norton AntiVirus Plus
- Webroot SecureAnywhere AntiVirus
- ESET NOD32 Antivirus
- F-Secure Antivirus SAFE
If you need help with computers
If you are no good with computers, you can always ask a friend or a family member who are good with computers. If the threat is serious, please take your computer to the local computer or technical store. They usually have professional or would recommend where to go to.
Try to get your money back
Then based on the payment method, try to contact bank, credit card company or other relevant institutions and abort the transaction. Lastly, change passwords to strong ones.
Great video tutorial on Youtube here (click on the link).
Relevant information: For windows users check the post by Microsoft
Federal Trade Commission shared their call (see video below) with the tech support scammer.