The internet age has made it possible for people to keep in touch with their nearest and dearest wherever they are in the world and businesses and tech support teams to work globally. At the same time, it has also made it possible for scammers to operate at a safe distance, knowing that even if their activities are criminal, there are high barriers to finding them, let alone prosecuting them.
One of the most common scams doing the rounds at the current time is the “fake tech support” scam. The basic scenario is that you are contacted and offered tech support to fix a problem, be it a computer, tablet or phone. Your scam “helper” then takes control of it. Here are four tips to spot this scam.
1. Fake Tech Support – the first move
Certified IT Support Companies do not contact customers individually to tell them that there is a problem with their computer. Saying they offer advice to ‘fix my Tech’. Neither does Microsoft. They either put out generic updates for everyone to download themselves or they wait for individual customers to realise there is a problem and contact them.
Therefore, if someone does contact you to offer you technical support, then you should probably work on the basis that they are a scammer unless they provide some very compelling proof to the contrary.
NB: Remember that caller IDs and legitimate-looking email addresses can be faked fairly easily. If you really think there is a possibility the caller or emailer is genuine (it’s unlikely) then do independent research as to the genuine company’s contact details and call them directly.
2. Fake IT Support – The silent tell
Most scammers use autodiallers, which essentially keep on dialling and dialling until somebody picks up and then they connect you with a human. There is a short but noticeable pause while this happens. If somebody was contacting you directly, they’d already been on the line and you’d speak to them straight away.
Bonus tip: Callers may ask you to “confirm your details”, this should be a red flag for any caller. Companies do not need your personal details just to provide free technical support and, if they are calling you, they should already know who you are.
3. Fake IT – Giving you more problems than solutions
Quite bluntly, these companies are looking to frighten you into doing what they say. This is the exact opposite of genuine Managed IT Support Providers (MSP) whose IT teams will aim to reassure you that they will sort out your problem.
In this vein, callers may ask you to look at your Windows logs to see details of a problem. Knowing full well that the average PC will almost always have some minor problem, which will be highlighted here. Alternatively, they may try to blind you with jargon. Ignore it and put down the phone.
4. Fake Tech Support – Always sounds too good to be true
Sure, your computer may be running slowly or your internet connection might be a bit hit and miss. Scam callers will highlight these problems because most people experience them from time to time.
If someone promises they can fix everything and all you need to do is give them remote access to your machine, say no! Hang up the phone! Don’t give anybody remote access to your computer unless you are fully confident they are who they say they are.