According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), it received nearly 11,000 tech support related complaints in the year 2017. Tech support scams have been around for a long time, and they can lead to massive losses on the part of the victim. The threat of these scams have increased massively, with Microsoft seeing 24% increase in tech scams in 2017 when compared to the previous year. Scammers work by misleading users into believing something is wrong with their electronic device, often by using a pop-up message. Users who click to troubleshoot the problem often end up downloading malware (especially ransomware) or get redirected to a page where they are enticed to download a fake software which promises to fix the problem.
Needless to say, tech support scams are more rampant that you think. Many can fall for the scams, not only those who are naive when it comes to technology. Because we rely on technology so much, when something goes wrong we are prone to panicking and seeking a quick fix, and this is a reason why tech support scams see much success. It is therefore vital to know how to identify and subsequently avoid such scams.
Scammers will often pose as representatives from a legitimate company. In response to you telling them your problem, they will offer to fix the issue for you, for a little fee, of course. Note that most companies offer such support for free, so one way of identifying a scammer is by noting an interest in money.
For those users who visit online tech forums in search of solutions, they will be tricked into thinking whatever result appears after the search is accurate. What they do not know is cyber criminals are capable of advertising fake services to rank highly on such search results. Always observe the links leading up to the support page to verify they come from a legitimate source.
You can avoid tech support scams by considering the following:
- When needing help with any purchased software, look at the packaging which accompanied the software for the accurate web address or customer support line.
- Be careful when paying for tech support. A large number of tech support assistance is free, so always investigate on this issue.
- Skip all links and go directly to the source. Manually input the address of the company you want to contact into the address bar of your browser. The search bar can pull up false results, so be cautious.
- Links are not trustworthy. Always check links before clicking them.
- Some scammers will call you first, and impose tech-related problems on you. Be wary of such, and never trust any “support” makes the first call.
Have you come across any of these scams? Let us know about your experiences and the article below.