The phone rings, and a friendly voice addresses you by name and identifies himself as tech support from Microsoft or Apple.
He says there’s something wrong with your computer – and he has the ability to fix it, if only you’ll give him access to your machine.
We hope that by now some alarms are ringing in your head, and rightfully so. This is a scam, and the Federal Trade Commission is getting more reports from people who have been duped by this clever scheme.
How it works
A supposed tech support representative calls, claiming to be from a company you trust like Microsoft or Apple. He throws a barrage of confusing technical terms at you to convince you that the company has detected a virus or malware on your computer and that he is calling to help you fix it.
To do so, he needs remote access to control your machine. Give it to him, and he will poke around your computer, claiming legitimate files are problematic. He may install malware or keylogging software on your computer but tell you that it’s software that will fix the problem. He’ll scare you into thinking there’s a problem with your computer, but for a fee, he can help you fix it.
The FTC says that best-case scenario, you lose money and get useless software – or software that was available for free elsewhere. Worse-case scenario, the scammer gets access to your files and personal information as well as your credit card number, or he disables your security settings leaving you vulnerable to attack.
What should you do if you get one of these calls?
Hang up. These calls always come unsolicited. The scammers access your name and number from public directories. They haven’t actually had access to your computer. If you get a scam call, hang up and call the company the scammer purported to be from. Then, report the call to the FTC.
Don’t give any information. If you stay on the line, don’t allow access to your computer or give out any personal information, credit card or financial information, or passwords.
Be skeptical. Just because the Caller ID says the call is from Microsoft or Apple doesn’t mean it is. Scammers are good at masking their numbers so they look legitimate. And don’t trust the Google search you do of the phone number afterward – these are elaborate schemes, and they have the web presence to back up what they’re trying to sell you.
Protect your number. Put your number on the National Do Not Call Registry so you don’t get unsolicited sales calls in the first place.
Have you already been the victim of one of these scams?
First, call PNSolutions! We can help you recover if you’ve fallen for this elaborate scam. We’ll use legitimate security software to remove any malware that was installed on your machine and restore your security settings, making them even stronger than before.
Second, change any passwords you gave out over the phone – and update any account that uses those same passwords. Use our tips for creating strong passwords that are harder for scammers and hackers to crack.
Third, monitor your credit card for any unusual charges and contact your credit card company to get those charges reversed.
When your computer or network is infected with a virus or afflicted by malware, don’t panic: Call PNSolutions first. We can help you recover.