Be Aware of Tech Support Scams

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Their day in and day out job is deception


A rash of fake tech support calling to “help” someone fix a problem has been going around lately. Typically, you will receive a call from someone stating to be from AT&T or Microsoft or some other well-known, and large, company. They’ll tell you that they’ve seen a problem on your computer or with your Internet recently and need to help you clean it up. They then ask you to go to a support site so they can get connected and help you out. This will wind up with them needing a credit card number or something to charge you for some sort of support. Most folks who read this are probably thinking, “I would recognize this as a scam and wouldn’t fall for it”. This may be true, but all of us have our days and it has been somewhat surprising to see how well it works. Then again, they are in the business of deception and talk to tons of folks to hone their skills and “get it right”. So, what can you do?

Don’t Give Out PII

PII is Personally Identifiable Information like name, credit card number, dates of birth, social security number, address, name of your pet, etc. Incoming calls should be treated as suspect. Don’t ever give away any PII to someone who calls you. If you think it might be a legitimate call, find that company’s information by logging on to your account, or looking at a bill and getting their contact information.

Don’t Trust Anyone that Contacts You First

As touched on above, always look up contact information from a known good source. For instance, log onto your account online, or look at a previous bill, or if it pertains to a credit card get the information from the back of it. After you find the known good contact information, give them a call and see if there really was an issue. If not, report the fake call or email to them. It helps them to know and possibly even track down the fake support.

Realize that Companies do not Make Unsolicited Calls

As nice as big ol’ giant AT&T or Microsoft or Apple may be, they will not and do not make unsolicited calls to you just to help out. However, you very well may be paying for support from a particular company. If so, you should know them, and they won’t ask for a credit card over the phone. If you are unsure, they won’t mind a bit if you call a known good number you look up to talk to them.

Have a Little Fun

You could have a little fun if you realize that you’ve been contacted by fake support BEFORE anything happens. Take a look at this video. This gentleman was able to get two of the scammers to scam each other. In actuality, it probably is better just to hang up on them, but it sure is fun to watch.

If They have Connected to Your Computer, Call a Trusted Provider

Sometimes they will fool folks and get through the part where they let them connect to their computer. If this happens, immediately call someone you know for help to clean up your computer and disconnect any remote support session that you can see running. This is not a typical avenue for Locky style malware or anything else really bad like that, but you have to be careful. If you feel comfortable enough, download Malwarebytes, CCleaner, TDSSKiller and run those tools along with your normal AntiVirus and AntiMalware tools. This is important because the fake tech support people will often put something on your computer to cause problems if they don’t get a credit card from you.

What is the Long and the Short of It?

Always be skeptical of any incoming calls, emails, or any other contact. Make sure you know who you are communicating with, and if you happen to slip up and let someone in to your computer take care of it immediately. Be safe out there!