Tech Support Scams & Cybersecurity
Recently, a member of our marketing team was dealing with Microsoft customer support. He called the support number to and was connected to a tech support employee that requested remote access to his computer in order to address the problem. It caused him some concern, and rightfully so. “Tech support” scams are becoming more and more common. Luckily, in this case, it wasn’t a scam, but it is something to watch out for.
How Tech Support Scams Work
When people are using their computers, a prompt may pop up on the screen that appears legitimate (e.g. it may appear to be from Microsoft, or HP, Dell, etc.). The prompt usually warns that there is a problem and to fix it the user needs to call a number.
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Once connected, “tech support,” asks to take control of the user’s device. The repairs are offered for a fee and after you consent, “tech support” will “work” on your computer for what may be over an hour, which allows malware to be planted and potentially the theft of personal information from the computer.
What You Can Do
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the FBI received more than 41,000 complaints about these types of scams last year. To avoid becoming a victim, you should ignore all prompts that come up on your computer screen asking you to call a number and, if you receive such a prompt, scan your system for viruses and malware. You should also report the incident to the Better Business Bureau and the FTC. Lastly, be sure to change your passwords and make sure your software is up to date.
Importantly, these scammers can appear as legitimate businesses and they may show up at the top of a search engine search results page. Be vigilant and spend a few minutes researching the company in question if possible. Many times you will see consumers discussing the company or service in question on consumer forums that will help better inform you.