What is the Tech Support Scam? And How Can Your Company Avoid It?

When it comes to digital security, it can seem like a constant struggle to keep your information safe. But as with most things in business, making sure you and your team are educated about the issue will help protect your data and your livelihood more than anything else. Education means following trends and learning about the latest scams and how to protect yourself against them. Most professionals are familiar with phishing and the so-called “Nigerian Prince” scam. But do you know what to expect from the tech support scam? Here are some details about this growing cyber-crime strategy, and how your company can avoid falling victim to it.

It Often Starts with a Call

A technical support scam refers to a certain type of telephone fraud. It starts when a scammer calls and claims to offer a legitimate technical support service. These are mostly cold calls targeting unsuspecting users with a low degree of technical knowledge. They are mostly targeted at users of Microsoft Windows, with the caller claiming to represent a Microsoft technical support department. Once the scammer has your ear, they use a variety of confidence tricks (used to build trust) to gain access to your computer. The scammer often gets their victim to install remote desktop software which they then use to take control of the victim’s computer, show the user “proof” of issues needing to be fixed, then demand payment for the “support” they will require solving the problem. Scammers can also maintain access to a device for data mining purposes long after the call is completed.

This type of scam can also be initiated by a pop-up ad or email that leads the user to believe their computer is experiencing a computer problem that the maker of the ad can solve. Regardless of the source of the scammer’s contact, the result is the same. The victim is left with an unsecured device and possibly has paid for support unnecessarily.

Recognizing the Scam

The first step to protecting yourself from the tech support scam is to recognize it. If you receive an unsolicited cold call from a legitimate-sounding third party offering to fix issues with your computer, be wary. You will only receive a call from tech support if you request it. If you see a message that says your computer needs tech support, look for signs of fraud in the pop-up itself. Look for poor spelling, unprofessional imagery, and bad grammar. You can also do an internet search for the phone number listed in the pop-up ad to confirm legitimacy. Check a scam-tracker website to see if the number has been reported. It is always better to verify a number on the company website directly, never trust a third party website claiming it’s own legitimacy.

If you do get into a conversation with a potential scammer, the best thing to do is hang up. If you find that you have become a victim of such a scam, you should quickly change your passwords, run a full system scan for viruses, and file a complaint with your regional anti-fraud bureau (in the U.S. it’s the FTC).

For more tips on protecting your data, connect with the experts at Happy Faces Records Management today.


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