How to spot a tech scam before you get stung:
If your computer had a virus, you’d want to know about it before your files became corrupt, you lost your photos and your digital life was essentially destroyed. Just thinking about it can be terrifying.
Tech scammers know we’d be lost without our computers, and that we don’t always know what’s going on behind the screen – which is why they’ve been able to swindle millions from every day people across the world.
These scammers deal in urgency. If you are unsure what is happening, take a breath and remember you can always turn off/unplug the computer.
The scam goes like this:
An alarming pop-up (that you can’t close) appears on the screen, saying your system has been infected with a virus. Alternately you might receive a random phone call from someone (often with a heavy accent) saying they’re from Microsoft and your computer is in imminent danger.
To fix the problem, they need you to download some support software, which they’ll give you a special link for.
A “technician” then uses that software to gain access to your system and make it appear your system is riddled with viruses. Flashing screens, mysterious diagnostics whizzing by, fabricated errors…they’ll do or say anything to make you panic. They’ll even go as far as claiming your system has been infected with illegal content and if not corrected, you’ll face criminal charges.
Demands for credit card information follow immediately after. Once paid, they simply stop fiddling with your system to make it seem as though the problem is fixed. To continue the scam, they’ll soon access your system to recreate the problem, this time offering a subscription for ongoing protection.
What to do if you’re targeted by a tech scam:
1. Don’t taunt them. Just hang up. Right now, you’re only a phone number in their system and they’ll move onto the next – if you give them cause to target you personally, you may find yourself in a worse situation.
The real Microsoft will never randomly call people like this. Ever.
- If a pop-up appears, immediately run an anti-virus scan. Don’t click the pop-up or call the number.
What to do if you’ve already been scammed:
It’s okay. It feels horrible, but you’re not alone and the situation can be corrected.
Call your financial institution and have the charges reversed and your card reissued. It’s easier than you might think and helps the authorities locate the scammers.
Then give us a call and we’ll make sure they don’t have access to your computer and assess any other damage they may of caused.