Better Business Bureau
You receive an email or phone call claiming your computer has been hacked or has a virus. In a frantic state, you pay the caller to fix the issue. Without confirming the issue was legit or not, your personal information has been compromised. This is what’s called a tech support scam. So, before you act on the pressure, think to yourself, is this legit?
Tech support scammers often call and pretend to be a computer technician from a well-known company claiming they’ve found a problem with your computer. They typically ask you to give them remote access to your computer and then pretend to run a diagnostic test. They try to make you pay to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. In some cases, they may trick you into enrolling in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program. Others try to sell you software or repair services that are worthless or available elsewhere for free.
These scams are more common than you think. According to a report issued by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, tech support scams were by far the most often reported category of fraud against people aged 60 and older last year. Nearly 18,000 victims reported total losses of nearly $588 million in 2022.
The Better Business Bureau offers tips to avoid these scams:
· Keep in mind legitimate tech companies won’t contact you by phone, email or text message to tell you there’s a problem with your computer.
· Remember security pop-up warnings from real tech companies will never ask you to call a phone number or click on a link.
· Avoid clicking on links or opening attachments in unsolicited emails.
· Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you’re sure it’s a representative of a computer support team with whom you initiated contact.
· Never pay for the service in the form of cryptocurrency or gift cards.
· Be wary of downloading software from third-party sites, as some of them might have been modified to bundle malware and other threats.
· Look out for sponsored ads at the top of the results list when searching for tech support companies. Many of these links lead to businesses scamming consumers.
· Protect your computer by using antivirus software and a firewall from a reputable company and run updates regularly. Also, enable pop-up blockers. Pop-ups are regularly used by scammers to spread malware.
· Resist the pressure to act immediately.
· Be wary if you paid for technical support services and later receive a call about a refund, this could also be a scam.
· Don’t rely on caller ID. Scammers can make any number or name appear on a caller ID, even if they are out of the country.
· Always backup content on your computer.
If you are victim of a technical support scam, update or download legitimate security software and scan your computer. Delete anything the software says is a problem. Also, change any passwords you have shared with someone else. Then, take your computer to a trusted local business and have it checked out. You should also call your bank or credit card company and ask to have the charges reversed if you paid for services. You can report the
matter to BBB Scam Tracker, BBB.org/scamtracker, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, IC3.gov, and the Federal Trade Commission, ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
BBB can also help. BBB can provide a list of BBB Accredited tech support companies and Business Profiles on ones you may be considering. Visit BBB.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.