Don’t fall for it – spotting sneaky tech support scams

Ever been working on your computer when a scary pop-up message screams about viruses? Or gotten a call from someone claiming to be from a big tech company, saying your computer’s about to explode? These are tech support scams, and they target people just like you. Here’s how to spot them and avoid getting tricked:

The Sneaky Tactics of Tech Support Scammers

Scammers use a few different tricks to try and steal your money:

  • Pop-Up Panic Attacks: Fake pop-up warnings will appear on your screen, claiming your computer is infected with a virus. They might even look like official messages from Microsoft or other trusted companies. Don’t panic! Just close the window (without clicking anything) and ignore any instructions to call a number.
  • The Phony Phone Call: Scammers might call you pretending to be tech support from a well-known company. They’ll often try to pressure you into giving them remote access to your computer and then “find” problems that need fixing (for a fee, of course!). Remember, real tech companies won’t call you out of the blue about computer issues.
  • Suspicious Search Results: Some scammers pay to have their fake tech support companies appear high in search results. Be cautious of clicking on any link for tech support in a search engine, especially if it’s at the top.
  • The Refund Re-Scam: If you’ve ever used tech support before, beware of calls offering a “refund” for those services. It’s a scam! They’ll try to trick you into giving them your financial information.

How to Stay Safe

Here are some simple steps to protect yourself:

  • Update, Update, Update: Keep your software up to date, including your antivirus and operating system. This helps patch security holes that scammers can exploit.
  • If in Doubt, Shut It Out: Don’t click on suspicious pop-ups or links. If you get an unexpected call about computer problems, just hang up.
  • Real Tech Support Has a Real Website: If you need help, go to the official website of the company whose software you’re having trouble with. They’ll have real support options available.

What to Do If You Get Scammed

If you accidentally gave a scammer remote access to your computer, shut it down immediately. Update your security software and run a full scan. Consider changing your passwords for important accounts like banking and email.

Report It!

If you encounter a tech support scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission (https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/). By reporting scams, you can help protect others from falling victim.