The FBI has begun warning people about a massive increase in tech support scams occurring ahead of the holiday season. If you’re the kind of person who spends any time on your computer, you need to be aware of these insidious scams and the things you should do to avoid them.
Remember, you should never give anyone access to your computer, no matter how convincing they are. If you can’t control what’s happening on your computer, then you’re in trouble and should sever the internet connection immediately.
According to FBI special agent Ashley Johnson, the newest scams mainly appear in the form of pop-up ads. “You may be on your computer, and you may get a pop-up,” Johnson warns. “And this pop-up will tell them, ‘Hey, your accounts have been hacked. Call this number.’ And [the scammers] will represent themselves as a reputable software company.”
This is a somewhat common scam that criminals use to target older victims. Since some older computer users are a bit less tech literate, they might not realize that they’re dealing with criminals instead of a real tech support company.
There are a few surefire ways to spot these scams. For one thing, companies like Microsoft or Norton aren’t going to contact you out of the blue and instruct you to call a support number. Antivirus services are things you have to implement yourself, not something you’ll accidentally run across while you’re surfing the web.
If you call someone who solicits you, you’re in their web. They’re then able to pose as some company, under the guise of “tech support,” and get access to your computer’s functions. Never hand over direct control of your computer to someone else – they can cause serious damage when they have full access to your bank account, security settings, and other applications.
Another way this scam can work is by convincing the victims their bank account numbers and social security numbers have been compromised already and scaring the victims into pulling their money out of their bank accounts. Then, the scammers will instruct their victims to funnel the money into “safe” accounts that they provide.
Naturally, those “safe” accounts are just crypto wallets that the scammers operate. Since crypto is anonymized and hard to trace, it makes it nearly impossible to recoup your lost money when you’re targeted by a scam like this.