Computer issues can be frustrating and sometimes you would do just about anything to have them fixed quickly. When this happens, it’s easy to let your guard down and opens the door for you to call victim to a popular scheme many scammers use. They’re called technical support scams or tech support scams, for short.
How to Spot and Avoid Tech Support Scams
In most scenarios, the tech support scammers try to convince individuals their computer has a serious issue, like a virus and the only way to fix the “issue” is to pay for tech support services. These scammers know how to pose as a legitimate computer tech and some establish authentic-looking websites. They ask you to pay for the fraudulent service by wiring money, sending a gift card filled with money, or using a money transfer app because these types of payments can be difficult to reverse. Unfortunately, many people fall for these types of scams, but you can learn how to spot them, avoid them and report them!
Fraudsters call and pretend to be a computer technician from a well-known, reputable company. They say there is a problem with your computer and often ask you to provide remote access to your computer so they can run a diagnostic test. After pretending to run the test, they claim to identify the problem and that you will have to pay them in order to have it fixed. Tip: If you receive an unexpected phone call from someone who says there’s a problem with your computer, hang up.
Scammers use a pop-up window that appears on your computer screen to lure you in. It may look like an operating system error message indicating a security issue on your computer or one that says to update your antivirus software. To be even more convincing, the message may include logos from trusted companies or websites as well as a phone number to call to have the issue resolved. Don’t call it! Tip:You will not receive a real warning message in a pop-up window encouraging you to call a phone number.
Online Ads and Search Result Listings
Tech support scammers create fake websites so when people turn to Google to find ways to fix their computer issue, the scammer’s phony website populates in the search engine results. They may even run online ads to promote their “tech support services”. Scammers are crossing their fingers you’ll click on their website or call the phone number to ask for help and a resolution that will cost you money. Tip: If you’re in need of tech support, only reach out to a company you know and trust.
Remember, legitimate tech support companies will never ask you to call a phone number or contact you out of the blue by phone, email or text message to let you know there’s a problem with your computer.
Tech Support Refund Scams
If you receive a call from someone trying to offer you a refund for tech support services you paid for, it’s most likely a refund scam. How does the scam work? The scammer begins by asking if you were happy with the services you received. If you say you weren’t satisfied, they’ll offer you to refund your money. In another scenario, the scammer may tell you the company is going out of business and handing out refunds. Telling fake stories is the way the scammers try to steal your money. Tip: Do not give your bank account number, credit card or other personal and financial information to anyone that calls you. Protect your identity!
What to Do if You Have an Actual Computer Problem
If you are experiencing issues with your computer and think there may be an actual problem, try updating your computer’s security software and run a scan. If you need help from a real computer technician to fix a problem, go to someone at a company you know and trust. Many software companies offer online support or can help via phone. Some stores that sell computer equipment usually offer in-person technical support as well.
What to Do if You Fall for the Scam
If you were tricked into paying a tech support scammer with a debit or credit card, you may be able to stop the transaction. Contact your bank or credit card company immediately. Tell them exactly what happened and ask if the charges can be reversed. If you used a gift card to pay a tech support scammer, you can contact the company that issued the card to ask if they can refund your money.
If you provided a scammer with remote access to your computer, update your computer’s security software ASAP. Then run a virus scan and delete anything it may identify as a problem and contact your bank to make them aware of the situation.
If you gave a tech support scammer your user name and password, change your password right away and create one that is strong and difficult to crack. Since your password has been exposed and possibly compromised, make sure to change it for other accounts or sites that may have had the same password. For additional ways to protect yourself and your information, review our blog “The Measures You Should Take to Be Cyber Safe”.
How to Report Tech Support Scams
If you’re contacted by a tech support scammer, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Providing as much information and details about the scam is extremely helpful so the FTC can begin to build a case against these specific scammers to prevent more from occurring.
As a community bank, we are here to help you spot potential scams and take the appropriate measures to protect yourself if you suspect you have been a victim of financial fraud. Visit the Lakeland Bank Identity Theft Center for more tips and tricks to keep your personal information protected, read our educational blogs on the topic of Privacy & Cybersecurity or contact us at 866-224-1379.