How-to Avoid Tech Support Scams

If you haven’t seen or been contacted by a tech support scam yet, consider yourself lucky.  A recent survey discovered that tech support scams have been experienced by two out of three people.  Luckily, not everyone gives them money, but some people pay up out of fear.

It is very important to make sure family members, especially those who are less computer savvy, are aware of these scams.  One of the most common phone calls our repair shop receives is in regards to tech support scams.

If you aren’t aware that what is happening is a scam, you could easily fall for their game.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  It happens to hundreds of people every day.  But the sooner people become aware of how the scammers operate, the sooner this can end.

The Scam

It can be a terrifying message. Something along the lines of “Warning – We’ve discovered a virus on your computer, do not close this page or shut down or you will lose all of your information”.  The message will then give you a number to contact ‘Microsoft’ for tech support over the phone.  Once they get you on the phone they will try to have you download a program so they can gain access to your machine.

Once they’re in the machine, it’s bad news.  Now they have access to your computers files and personal data.  They will pull up a bunch of different screens to try and scare you into thinking something is really wrong with your machine.  There is a good chance they’ll install malicious software while they are in there too.

Now they attempt to sell you some “service” which will fix your computer and protect you for a certain number of years.  They’ll transfer you off to someone else who will take your credit card information and the scam is complete.

It may not be a pop up on your screen that gets you to call into the tech support scam.  Another very common way they operate is cold calls.  You might be sitting at home enjoying your morning coffee, when all the sudden you get a call.  It’s someone from “Microsoft”, or “Dell”, or some other large computer company warning you that your computer is showing virus activity.

Here’s the bottom line and we’re quoting directly from Microsoft’s website :

“Remember, Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication we have with you must be initiated by you.”

That goes for ANY company as well. No one is going to proactively call or show you a pop up on your screen warning you of infection.

What to do

If you’re browsing the internet and a popup locks your screen and won’t let you close it:

  • Try to close the internet – either by clicking the ‘x’ in the top right corner or by right clicking the icon in the taskbar and selecting ‘Close Window’ or Exit.

 

  • If that does not work you can hit Ctrl + Shift + Esc. This will bring up task manager. Select your internet browser and choose “End Task”

 

  • If that doesn’t work or you’re not sure how to use Task manager, simply hold down the power button on your computer for 10 seconds. This will force the computer to shut down.

 

If you’ve already been a victim of the scam it is extremely important that you keep a close watch on all of your personal accounts.  Change the passwords on everything (E-mail, Bank accounts, Credit cards, Facebook, etc.).  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take it into your local computer repair store. Have them check it out and clear out any junk the scammers may have left behind.

For more information, you can check out Microsoft’s tips as well.  If you think you’ve been a victim of one of these scams, give us a call. And remember to share this information with your friends and family members!  Awareness is the key to ending these types of scams!