A major computer tech scam has cheated people out of their life savings. The scam starts by telling people their computer is sick and they need to pay for the fix.
These scams have become very popular with hackers and thieves.
How the tech support scam works
In fact, there’s a new version of the scam making the rounds. A pop-up warning appears, claiming to be from Google. According to a recent report, the fake notification warns you that your computer has been blocked.
There are multiple versions of this scam.
The problem is these scams come in every shape and size. It is very hard for consumers to tell which warning is real and which is fake.
Hackers make these messages seem like they are from Microsoft or Google. Typically, the notification prompts the user to call a phone number.
When you call the number, you’re asked to give out more information to the scammer.
In one recent case, fake ‘agents’ were sitting in a call center in Bristol. These agents would then run “tests”, and demand the caller pay $1900 if they wanted their computer to work again.
How to Avoid Support Scams
It’s easy to fall for an download the software suggested to you by the crooks. Don’t do it!
Scammers will track everything you do. They cannot wait until they can steal your password or credit card number.
Once you give scammers access to your computer, they can hold it ransom until you pay them a large amount of money. It is scary to think about losing access to all your important information.
Here are some common tactics a scammer may use to try to get money and/or sensitive information from you:
- Try to sign you up for a worthless PC warranty program
- Ask to log in remotely to your computer to fix a problem
- Trick you into putting malware that steals important data like user names and password.
- Give you fake websites that ask for your credit card number.
What to do if you get a call from someone claiming to be from tech support:
- Don’t give out your password to anyone on the phone.
- If you suspect something is not right, hang up the phone.
- Don’t trust the person calling to say who they are. This is likely a criminal.
- Put your phone number on the Do Not Call.gov List and then report illegal sales calls.
- Never give credit information to anyone you don’t trust.
- Don’t allow your computer to be taken control of by someone you don’t know.
- If you really need tech support, make sure to Google “Tech Support Professionals” or find a local shop.
What to do if you’ve responded to an alert or other notification that you think could be a scam:
- Get rid of the virus – Update or download safe security software and scan your computer. Delete anything it identifies as a problem. Here’s a list of free antivirus and malware protection options.
- Immediately update any password Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use these passwords for other accounts, change those accounts, too.
- Call your credit card company and let them know what happened. They will make sure your credit cards do not get fake charges.
- File a complaint with the National Do Not Call Registry at complaints.donotcall.gov
Tips to avoid similar scams
- Know what the link is before you click on it. Attachments are often not what they seem.
- Never give out bank information. Use your bank’s secure website.
- Follow your intuition: Don’t click on a site if it doesn’t look right.
- Run anti-virus software: Frequently run anti-virus protection programs on your devices to check for any malware that could be hiding in the background. Here’s a list of free options.