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Tech support scams, explained

Sep. 22, 2020 Cyber Security

Learn how to spot and avoid falling victim to scammers who pose as tech support specialists

Tech support scams: they’ve been around for years, preying on people’s fears and taking advantage of a lack of technical knowledge.

Fortunately, most can spot the more obvious signs of a tech support scam before being tricked into giving away access to their computer or divulging sensitive information. 

However, these scams are becoming more sophisticated—and it’s not only personal data that’s at risk. 

Many more people than usual are currently working from home. And while many remote workers will be using company-owned devices that are (hopefully) protected with robust security measures, others are possibly using their own computer to complete day-to-day work activities.

It’s bad enough if a tech support scammer dupes an individual into giving up access to their personal computer. But it’s a different—and far more dangerous—situation if a scammer gains entry to a device that also has access to your confidential business data.

At NeverBlue IT, we believe that security education is the key to stopping these hackers in their tracks. Join us to learn how tech support scams work so you can spot them, avoid them, and help to keep your business safe.

What is a tech support scam?

A tech support scam usually comes in the form of an unsolicited phone call, website pop-up, or email that’s purportedly from a tech support specialist notifying you of a problem with your computer.

To add legitimacy, the scammer may pretend to be from Microsoft, Google, Apple, Norton, McAfee, or another well-known technology company. They’ll tell you that your computer is infected with a virus, malware, or spyware.

The goal of the scam is to convince you to pay this “tech support specialist” to fix your (non-existent) computer problem. The scammer will often ask you to pay by wiring money, putting money on a gift card or prepaid card, or using a money transfer app. That’s because they know those types of payments can be hard to trace and even harder to reverse.

If you grant the scammer access to your computer, there’s also the risk that they could install malicious software to steal your personal data or sensitive information, change your computer settings, or disable your antivirus software—leaving your computer vulnerable to future attacks.

How does a tech support scam work?

The scammer may start by trying to shake your confidence in your technical abilities. They will ask if you’ve recently downloaded any programs, opened any email attachments, made any computer updates, or visited any unsecured websites.

If you say yes, they may attempt to convince you that these actions have led to your computer becoming infected. They will often ask for your permission to access your device to perform diagnostic scans then offer to fix the problem for you—all for a fee, of course.

Other types of common tech support scams will attempt to enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program, or try to sell you software or repair services that are available for free elsewhere.

How do I avoid falling for a tech support scam?

Our advice here is very simple: if in doubt, don’t engage!

  • If you get a phone call you didn’t expect from someone who says there’s a problem with your computer, hang up.
  • If you see a pop-up message urging you to call a tech support number, ignore it.
  • If you receive an email telling you your computer is infected, don’t click any links, mark it as Spam, and delete it.

Never give anyone you don’t know remote access to your computer, and never give anyone your passwords.

If you’ve received a call and you are worried about a virus or other threat on a company-owned device, call your IT security department or consult your business’s managed IT provider as soon as possible.

How we can help

At NeverBlue IT, our goal is to protect your teams, your business, and your data from every possible online threat.

Our comprehensive Cyber Security service not only keeps your systems up to date with the latest security measures, but also keeps your teams alert with continued cyber security education and training.

Ready to learn more?

Contact us today

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