Tech Support Scams
Tech support scams are becoming increasingly profitable for the con artists behind them. In 2015 it was estimated that PC support scams netted technology tricksters over one and a half billion dollars. It therefore pays for all companies to make sure all their employees are aware of the best ways not to fall foul of tech support scams.
The easiest way to recognise tech support scams is that they all come unsolicited, usually via a pop-up window, email or phone call. Genuine tech support companies do not make unsolicited contact attempts full stop.
An ‘offer’ of support can be worded in several ways. Some are extremely subtle – they will say they can provide what sound like reasonable services, such as upgrading Microsoft Windows to make it run more efficiently. Some scams sound more alarming – they say they have accessed your PC via the internet and found it to be riddled with viruses, trojans, malware and other unwanted computer nasties. They then offer to clean your PC – for a fee of course.
Some scammers are incredibly persistent, and some companies and individuals have admitted to allowing bogus tech support ‘technicians’ access to their machines simply to stop weeks and weeks of continual phone calls.
The majority of tech support scams originate in India, and the most common claim made by tech support scam artists is that they are calling on behalf of Microsoft. Scammers claiming to be from either Google or Facebook are common as well.
If you are a Windows user then a scammer may ask you to open up the Run dialog (by pressing the ‘Windows’ key and ‘R’) then entering ‘eventvwr’, which is Microsoft’s Event Viewer. Even with an efficiently-running system, the event viewer is likely to contain warning and error messages, nearly all of which will always be entirely harmless. However, to anyone whom is not PC-savvy, it is easy for the scammer to claim that these messages show their PC is on the verge of meltdown, and that all important files are in danger of being lost.
The next stage of this common scam is for the victim to allow the scammer remote access over the internet to their PC. Under the disguise of ‘tech support’ the scammers may install monitoring programs that will allow them to uncover the user’s bank details, credit card numbers and even passwords. Some scams are much less sophisticated – they will simply ask the user to pay a fee via PayPal or some other financial route, then once the money is transferred the ‘tech support’ call will abruptly terminate.
It is not too difficult to keep yourself safe from potential tech support scammers. In short, if you receive an unsolicited call offering any form of tech support, then hang up immediately. As soon as you engage with a tech support scammer, you will be identified as a potential victim.
Do not, though, be afraid of engaging with a tech support company if your PC or network develops a genuine fault. There are plenty of genuine tech support companies available – and none of them will ever attempt to use the same tactics as employed by unscrupulous tech support scammers.
Call us on 01689 422522 or 0208 123 0007 if you need any advice or may have been contacted by a scammer.