Tech scammers know we would be lost without our computers and files, and they know that we don’t always know what’s going on behind the screen - which is why they’ve been able to swindle millions from every day people across the world.
The most common tech scam goes like this...
- You receive a random phone call, normally out of nowhere, from someone with a heavy accent (usually Indian) saying they’re from Microsoft, or an alarming pop-up appears on the screen, saying it looks like your system has been infected with a virus, or you get a message asking for some updates from software you don't use or have.
- To fix the problem, they need to you to a download remote support app (the same type of software we use) that allows them to remotely get in to your computer, which they’ll give you a special link for.
- A "technician" then uses that software to gain access to your system and make it appear your system is crippled with viruses, flashing screens, mysterious diagnostics whizzing by and fabricated errors. They’ll do or say anything to make you panic. They will even claim you have illegal content on your computer and if not corrected, you’ll face criminal charges.
- Finally they demands credit card information to "clean your computer" Once paid, they simply stop fiddling with your system to make it seem the problem is fixed. To continue the scam, they’ll soon access your system again to recreate the problem, this time offering a subscription for ongoing protection.
What to do if you have been targeted by a scam?
- Don’t taunt them, just hang up. At the beginning you’re only a phone number in their system and they’ll move onto the next.
- If a pop-up appears, immediately run an anti-virus scan. Don’t click the pop-up or call the number.
According to Microsoft: "A real Microsoft representative will never randomly call people. Ever."
What to do if you have already been scammed?
It’s okay. It feels horrible, but you’re not alone and the situation can be corrected. Call your credit card issuer or bank and have the charges reversed and your card reissued. It’s easier than you might think and helps the authorities locate the scammers.
Then give us a call and we’ll make sure they no longer have access to your computer. A good clean up will prevent anyone from getting in to your computer.
Do you have a story you want to share about a scammer calling you? Let us know in the commends below, you never know it might help someone avoid being scammed in the future.