Tech Support Scams 101 – Identifying Illegitimate Support

Tech support scammers aren’t interested in helping you fix a problem with your computer…in fact, they pretend to see a problem that isn’t even there. What are they after? Your hard-earned cash. Scammers want you to believe that your computer is at risk. Often, this includes convincing you that your computer has a virus, and the only thing that you can do is let them take care of the issue. Let’s be clear – your computer can get viruses – that’s not the red flag. The key is in the way scammers are notifying you. Tech support scammers normally catch you in one of two ways: through pop-up warnings or through cold calls.

Pop-Up Warnings

Imagine that you’re sitting at the computer, and a pop-up window appears on your screen. Maybe it looks like an error message from your operating system or antivirus software, and maybe there are logos from reputable companies or websites on the message. Even if you see a logo from a company you trust, take a moment to read the pop-up. Is there any misspellings, unprofessional images, poor grammar, or attached phone numbers? This is your first clue as to whether or not the message is from a tech support scammer.

Pro Tip: Security messages from real tech support companies never prompt you to call a phone number. If your pop-up says something like “Threats Detected! Contact a technician now at 1 (800) 722 -6637”, then your message is likely from a scammer.

Cold Calls

Tech support scammers love the call-and-scare tactic. That is, they call you, tell you that they’ve detected a serious problem with your computer (one that needs immediate attention), and persuade you to do two things: give them remote access to run a “diagnostics test” and pay to have them remove the issue. These two action items are linked, and here’s how: if the tech support scammers are given access to run their fake diagnostics test, then they’ll install real malware onto your computer. When they “find malware” on your computer, they really are finding malware – it’s just the malware they installed. Then, they’ll ask you to pay them to remove the recently-installed malware. Their system is simple: create an issue and be the first person available to fix it.

Pro Tip: A company like Computer PROS is never going to call you out of the blue, urging you to pay a fee to fix your computer. We don’t need to do that. If you need virus/spyware removal, feel free to stop in the store. Our technicians will be happy to assist you.

Other Tech Scam Tactics To Notice

Fake tech support companies often used paid search to make their fraudulent company look real. Their hope is that you’ll see their ad and call the phone number to get help.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for IT support, be sure to contact a company you know and trust.