tech support scam victim giving away credit card information

How to Spot, Avoid and Report Tech Support Scams

Tech support scammers are like pests. They roam around year-round looking for someone they can take advantage of.

These scammers will pretend like a technical support help desk staff and will make you believe you have serious problems with your computer. And for what reason? 

Money. They’ll ask you to wire money so they can help you fix a nonexistent issue.

So, how do you really spot, avoid, and report these tech support scams? Read on to find how.

How To Identify A Tech Support Scam

These technical support scammers have a variety of ways to trick people, including the following:

1. Cold Phone Calls

These scammers will call you and pretend to be a customer service/tech support representative from a well-known company (e.g., Microsoft, Apple). Here’s how they do this trick:

  • Make you believe you have a problem with your computer
  • Ask you to give them remote access to your computer
  • Pretend to run a diagnostic test
  • Show you all sorts of “bogus” issues
  • Ask you to pay them to fix your nonexistent problem

Always remember that legitimate IT companies never call their customers first. The customer has to initiate communication before these giant businesses make a move to address any issues.

2. Pop-up Warnings

fraud pop-up warnings in a computer screen

Tech support scammers can trick you with a pop-up window on your screen that looks like an error message from your operating system or antivirus software. 

These pop-up messages contain a logo of a legitimate company and a toll-free number you can call to get help. Don’t click on it nor make a call. Close it immediately since legit security warnings and messages will never ask users to call a phone number.

3. Online Ads and Listings

Scammers pretending to be tech support services can go as far as paying to get their own fake websites to show up in tech support searches online. 

They also run their own fake ads online hoping you’ll contact their business to ask for help for your computer problems.

How To Avoid Tech Support Scammers

Legitimate companies like Microsoft and Apple don’t contact customers unless the customer communicates with them first. Check out these guidelines to avoid tech support scams.

  • Don’t answer unsolicited calls from someone claiming to be a customer support specialist for your computer. Don’t give them any personal or computer-related information. Hang up immediately.
  • Shut down your browser if you receive a fake virus alert message. Don’t click any pop-up links.
  • If you get a pop-up window on your screen, don’t contact the phone number. Real security warnings and messages will never ask you to contact a phone number.
  • Look for the obvious signs of fraudulent messages: poor spelling, bad grammar, unprofessional approach, urgent language.
  • Run a malware scan in your computer using your antivirus software.
  • Scan for any viruses immediately after getting a scam message.
  • Keep your security software, browsers, and operating systems up to date.
  • Call a licensed computer technician for any computer problem.
  • Buy your software directly from a legitimate business. 
  • Don’t give any financial information to a stranger.

What To Do If You Got Scammed?

Got scammed by these tech support frauds? You’ll need the following steps to help you get your money back and make sure this never happens again:

  • You need to quickly change your passwords in almost everything: your computers, software, banks, social media accounts, and other websites (especially if you use the same password to your other accounts)
  • Use your antivirus software to run a full system scan on your PC
  • Don’t waste your time and call your bank immediately to report the fraud so they can reverse or refund the transaction. If you paid through gift cards, reach out to the respective company. 
  • If you gave the scammer remote access to your PC, update your security software settings immediately, scan, and delete any detected problems.

Report It Immediately

Time is precious once you realize you got scammed. Report the tech support service fraud right away to the Federal Trade Commission

Tell them everything that happened and give them the scammer’s phone number.

If you’re a small business owner, you’ll have to realize the importance of your cybersecurity earlier to avoid any interruption. 

It’s best to hire a licensed provider of IT services to protect your start-up and your staff and customers’ sensitive details.

Kingston Business Solution is here to help you. Call our team of seasoned IT professionals now to know and experience our services!

Have you experienced any tech support scams? Share with us how you handled it in the comments section below!