What to watch for and how to protect yourself
For many people, their computers are their life — whether it’s for work or simply to exist in a digitally wired world. So, when something goes wrong, many people are inclined to seek whatever help is available. Tech support scammers know this, which is why they actively prey on peoples’ technological insecurities.
Tech support scammers are lurking just beyond your computer, ready to pounce using several different tactics. Your first line of defense is to identify the tactics as a scam and turn them away.
A timely phone call
You may receive an unexpected phone call from someone claiming to be from a tech support company with a solution for what ails your computer. They say they can fix the problem if you give them remote access to your computer to run tests. They’ll almost certainly find a problem, and then coax you into paying them to fix it.
Scam prevention tip: Legitimate tech support companies do not call, text or email people. So, if you get such a call, hang up.
There’s nothing more unnerving than seeing a stark pop-up warning suddenly appear on your screen. It typically includes a warning about a security issue threatening your computer along with a phone number to call for help.
Scam prevention tip: A legitimate security warning on your computer will never ask you to call a phone number. Never, ever click on a pop-up window or call a phone number.
Tech support ads on Google Search
Scammers are experts at getting their ads placed at the top of Google search pages.
Scam prevention tip: If you’re searching for tech support, research name-brand companies and go directly to their websites for contact information.
What to do when your computer acts up
The first thing you need to do when your computer has problems is update your computer’s security software. It will do a scan, identify the problem and offer potential solutions. Your only contact should be with your operating system provider’s online support.
If you suspect a tech support scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at reportfraud.ftc.gov.