What Are Tech Support Scams?
Michelle Wilson - August 7, 2020
A scam that has caught on as our reliance on technology has increased is the ever present “Tech Support Scams”.
If you know what you are looking for with tech support scams than you will likely not ever become a victim however the problem, clearly, is that millions of people find themselves embroiled in scams and fake “pros” who are looking to pilfer your hard earned money. Tech Support Scams are a multimillion-dollar industry globally and they rely on you not knowing what to look for. They rely on you to not be that tech savy. And they rely on fear.
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Tech Support Scams
Most of us walk in a digital world with analog understanding. After all, it’s enough to know how to use a piece of technology, and you can’t be bothered with learning about why it works or how it works. You certainly aren’t alone and your stance on tech is completely understandable. If we were all tech gurus, what would the Geek Squad even do?
That said as time marches on its getting harder and harder for these types of scams to work on the everyday Joe. As the everyday Joe now includes a good amount of millennials who are way more tech savvy than previous generations. So this leaves our elderly the most vulnerable for this type of scam. The elderly is presumed to be much less tech-savvy and easily trusting. According to the FTC people over 60 are 5x more likely to be taken advantage of in this way.
Not only are they attempting to milk money out of you for their “help” with providing you tech support, but often times they’ll also try walk you through an install of a malicious virus of their design aimed at an ongoing attack to extract as much money and data from you as possible.
How Does This Work?
Typically there isn’t one favorite way of getting their victims. However more often than not it can fit into one of these scenarios.
- You start receiving popups on your screen that states your computer has been compromised.
- Scam sites that are most often accidentally accessed by common URL typos.
- Phishing emails that state you have an infection
- Spoof Caller IDs so that the caller looks as though they are from a legitimate company.
- Online ads for tech help.
The number one technique shared amongst all of the scenarios is the use of Fear to manipulate and motivate the target. Our lives are on our personal devices and the thought that something could happen to all our files, our connections, our personal data is enough to put you in a home for the mentally unwell.
How Can I Stay Safe?
- Security Software – While there are great free services for virus protection and security, we suggest you use a paid app. They are quite affordable and the peace of mind they provide is well worth it.
- Ignore unsolicited Calls – If you don’t recognize a caller, do not answer it. It’s that simple. If you want further information on that caller’s identity try using Check Peoples Reverse Phone Lookup. If you recognize the company, call them back and see what they need.
- Delete/Close/Don’t open emails or popups that you do not recognize. It may seem very targeted, as they know exactly who you are and that you are already a customer. But do not take the bait. Close it out. You know who your providers are, you can call them directly.
- Hang up as soon as you think you might be speaking with a scammer. It’s possible you are paying for every minute they get you to stay on the line. Cut it off immediately.
- Never give any payment information, even gift cards. If you didn’t seek them out specifically to use their service you should never give your credit card information over the phone.
It is easy to become a victim if you don’t know what to look out for. If you have family or friends who might be susceptible to these types of scams, you should make them aware and tell them what to look out for. There is a good chance they’ve already been taken advantage of and still don’t realize it.