Protecting yourself online is very important, but it’s nearly a full-time job. We’ve talked before about anti-virus software and how to avoid phishing attempts. Today, we’d like to discuss a specific sort of phishing attempt that’s affected thousands of people: tech support scams.
In tech support scams, some dubious individual or program will impersonate technical support from a company you would trust (like Microsoft). This person or program will then tell you they’ve detected a problem on your computer they need to fix. What they really want is your money or to install dangerous malware on your computer.
Unfortunately, these scams aren’t always easy to spot. In one particularly deceptive variety, your computer will display a fake Blue Screen of Death. The mouse cursor also disappears, making this seem for all the world like a devastating PC failure. The only way out, it seems to the user, is to call the fake support number included at the bottom of the error message.
In other “flavors” of tech support scams, a web page will take over the browser, preventing you from leaving the page or even switching tabs. In many cases, the user’s only apparent hope of rescue will take the form of a phone number or a button that promises to fix your computer (don’t click it!).
So what do you do when something seems to have taken over your browser? If a webpage tells you that your computer is infected, you should assume two things for safety’s sake: 1) there’s a chance your computer really is infected, and 2) that website is to blame. The next thing we want you to remember is to stay calm: hackers can smell your fear! OK, not really, but this is no time for rash behavior. Simply do everything you can to close that browser tab first, and then your browser. Next, update your anti-malware software’s definitions and run a complete scan of your PC.
Can’t get away from the red-flag website? Not 100% sure your anti-malware software was able to clean it up? Give your local pros at Friendly PC a call, and we’ll be glad to take another look!
Are You There, Jane Doe? It’s Me, Tech Support.
Another kind of tech support scam really has nothing to do with your computer; it happens (almost) entirely over the phone. When you pick up, the person on the other end will say they are calling from (or on behalf of) Microsoft or another reputable software company. It’s important to mention here that they will sometimes even call you by name! They will “inform” you they’ve detected an infection on your computer and offer to help you fix it.
Just like the online version of tech support scams, the scammer really wants your money, personal information, or to install malware on your computer. While this may seem scary at first blush, we have great news for you: this is one of the easier scams to spot and avoid.
All you need to know is Microsoft will never make an unsolicited call to you about security or software. The same is true for nearly every other popular software, and they especially shouldn’t ask for payment when they initiated the call. After you’ve spotted a telephone tech support scam comes the easy part: all you have to do is hang up. It really is that simple, and quite satisfying!
Keep Calm and Stay Safe!
Want to know more about tech support scams ? Check out this in-depth review from Microsoft. We hope you never encounter one of these scams, but at least now you’ll have a better chance at fighting them off.
If you’ve fallen victim to one of these scams, just give us a call! Friendly PC will help you clean up your PC and reinstall programs for $99-$160.