Many of our PC customers here at catmandu in Amarillo, TX are falling victim to tech support phone scams. The end result for these customers is a virus infected computer and the loss of hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Many of the computers that end up on our workbench are there because of tech support scams. We will explain how you can you spot a scam and how you should respond if you think someone is trying to con you.
First, the main goal of the criminal is to steal your money. The scams work when a scammer gets your phone number from a public directory and then calls you pretending to be a representative from various tech companies. They may even claim to be from a particular brand that you actually use, such as HP, Dell, Microsoft, etc. They will try to tell you that your computer is infected with a virus and they will offer to do a free security scan which will, of course, show that your computer is infected.
Once you are convinced that you have a virus, the scammer will try to sell you security software. This software could contain malware that takes over your entire system or it could just be bogus software that doesn’t do anything. Either way, the scammers have taken money from you.
Instead of selling you software, they may also convince you to let them access your computer remotely, where they will then make changes to your settings and leave you vulnerable. They may also ask for your credit card data or direct you to websites that ask for your payment information.
The worst cases that we see are when hackers have taken control of an entire system and make victims pay a ransom to get back control of their computers. This ransom can reach into the thousand dollar mark. Never pay this ransom.
If you get a call from a “tech company,” hang up. Then, call us at 806-350-8324. Do not try searching for the real support phone number because hackers have become smart; they now plant fake phone numbers all over the internet and try to get you to call them. It is highly unlikely that any tech company will call you and they rarely advertise their phone numbers on the internet. A legitimate number could be found on software packages, receipts, and from the company’s real website (be careful, though, criminals are good at making fake sites that look like the real thing).
Never, for any reason, give control of your system to someone who calls you. Never rely on Caller ID because this can be faked. Never provide callers with credit card numbers or passwords. Never install the free software that they are trying to provide. Just hang up.
If you are reading this blog after becoming a victim to a tech support scam, you need to bring your device to catmandu so we can perform a full system scan and remove any malware that may have been installed. It’s also important to change your passwords and cancel any credit cards that were compromised. Call your credit card company to report the fraud.
This may sound silly if you’ve never been the victim of a phone scam. However, these scam artists are extremely convincing and they have tricked thousands of people into giving up their money. But you can protect yourself by knowing what to look for and knowing what to do when you get a phone call.