What are Technical Support Scams?
In a technical support scam, a scam artist will try to contact you by phone or initiate contact via a website, often through a pop-up window in your web browser. If you are browsing an unfamiliar website and receive a pop-up claiming that your computer is infected, you should immediately disconnect from that site.
If you receive a call, the scammer typically will claim to be a representative from Microsoft or Apple technical support and claim that they have noticed your computer appears to be infected and is causing an issue that has come to their attention. They will highlight common concerns regarding your computer, such as viruses or malware. They will emphasize the danger in not addressing these issues and offer to “fix” these manufactured issues by connecting to your system.
What is the Possible Impact of Such Scams?
The goal of the scammer is to gain remote access to your computer, and once they have achieved that via legitimate remote desktop software, such as LogMeIn, they will do one or more of the following:
- Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive information, such as your online banking account name and password (they also might then charge you to remove this software).
- Persuade you to download software that will allow them to take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.
- Request credit card information so they can bill you for phone services.
- Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there.
Many of these scammers have shell companies or fake entities with full websites and toll-free telephone numbers that you can call.
How Can I Protect Myself from Technical Support Scams?
Legitimate technical support services will never contact you and ask for credit card or other financial information, or offer services in exchange for subscriptions and fees.
Per Microsoft’s website, if someone contacts you claiming to be Microsoft:
- Do not purchase any software or services.
- Ask if there is a fee or subscription associated with the “service” — if there is, hang up.
- Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer or you have initiated the trouble call.
- Take down the person’s information and immediately report it to your local authorities.
- Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from Microsoft or other technical support.
You can review the following resources to further protect yourself against technical support scams: