Given the rapidly changing nature of computer technology, even the savviest consumers can experience problems with their various devices – a fact which scammers can exploit by posing as tech support. A scammer may claim your computer is infected with a virus or malware, that your computer isn’t working properly, or that due to changes to your computer or an account, he/she needs to confirm your identity. A scammer may do this for various reasons which include taking your money, installing software on your computer in order to steal your personal or financial information, or adjusting your computer settings to make it more vulnerable.
Recognize the warning signs and protect yourself against these fraudsters by looking for the following:
- A pop-up on your computer screen from a well-known computer manufacturer or software provider. Bogus pop-ups can appear on your computer stating that that your computer is infected and that you need to call their paid tech support service to remove the infection. Sometimes, these pop-ups are purposely designed to look like authentic notifications from your computer or operating system. These are from scammers - do not click and do not call!
- Cold calls from a well-known computer manufacturer or software provider. Scam artists obtain information such as your name, address, and telephone number through public directories and utilize it to begin the scam by cold-calling a consumer. The scammer will often claim to be associated with well-known computer manufacturers or software companies in an attempt to legitimize the scheme.
- Claims about the immediate need to act. More often than not, the fraudster will try to create a sense of urgency by claiming they have received information that a problem exists on your personal computer and must be remedied right away.
- The use of confusing or overly technical jargon. For many, the technical terms surrounding computers can be confusing, and these scam artists often heavily use this language to confuse.
- Requests for remote access to your computer. To address the fictitious “issue”, the scam artist will insist that you immediately allow them to gain remote access to your computer, which in turn jeopardizes the functionality of your computer and can cause your personal information to be compromised. In effect, your machine can be repeatedly held ransom as the scam artist will often offer to “repair the machine” for a fee. This type of scheme can often fool a victim into repeatedly handing over payment to “fix” the computer.
If your computer’s functionality has been affected as a result of this scam, contact a reputable servicer using contact information from known sources.
If you feel your personal information such as your Social Security Number has been compromised, please visit the Identity Theft Section for further information on how you can prevent and repair damage.