Almost everyone’s interaction with tech support is hit or miss. Rarely will you read or hear an opinion in which the customer describes his experience as “it was fine” or “their help was about average.” It’s a very polarizing topic. Your experience is either really great and tech support helped you with every need, or they were “absolutely worthless” and “didn’t know a single thing.”
However, it comes as no surprise that everyone agrees with the sentiment that tech support scam artists are deplorable. Posing as someone that customers are supposed to trust only to invade their privacy and rip them off is infuriating.
Continue reading to learn more about how tech support scams work and what you can do to avoid getting trapped by them.
A tech support scammer will often cold call you unsolicited claiming to represent a software security company such as Microsoft, Apple, or Norton. They will inform you that they have detected very dangerous malware on your system—whether it’s your computer or a company server—and offer to assist you with eliminating the threat.
Another tactic that tech support scammers will employ is the use of fake websites or pop-ups that display messages. These messages will try to imitate authentic computer warnings but use hyperbolic language to make you overreact or take action without thinking.
One such pop-up warning displays a countdown clock and mentions that a virus will format your computer’s hard drive unless you click the contact number on the screen. This, of course, will launch malware software into your computer.
Whether the tech support fraud contacts you online or by phone, they will try their best to convince you to allow them access to your computer through a remote connection. At this point, they’ll either install malware on your computer or run fake tests pretending they found issues that will need to be fixed.
The scheme concludes with the scammer pressuring you into giving them tons of money for repairs and new equipment. The suspect will request payment with a gift card or wire transfer.
First and foremost, companies such as Microsoft and Apple, or security software companies like Norton or McAfee will never contact you unsolicited. They only respond when the customer initiates the communication. If you receive a call or see a pop-up window with contact information, ignore it.
Never give remote access to your computer to someone you do not know or who doesn’t work for a certified or legitimate security software company. Do not give away your username or password over the phone to anyone.
One tactic that you’ll want to be on the lookout for is a follow-up call about a month after you made a tech support request. Almost all tech support ticket conversations end as soon as the problem is solved.
If you did happen to initiate communication with tech support, be mindful of your ticket number and the name of the representative that worked with you. This will allow you to authenticate whether or not the unsolicited call is from the original company. More than likely they aren’t related and you should hang up immediately.