Most people have encountered a tech support scam at some point in their lives.
Scammers will often pose as technicians from Microsoft, telling you there are viruses on your computer that can only be removed if you pay X amount of money. If given the opportunity, these scammers will take control of your computer remotely, gaining access to your personal information.
These scams may be in the form of a pop-up on your computer with a ‘tech support’ phone number, malware that creates fake error messages, or unsolicited phone calls. Some things to look out for include:
- Pop-ups that encourage you to call a number to resolve issues with your computer.
- Audio messages playing, oftentimes a robotic sounding voice, claiming your computer is infected.
- Unsolicited phone calls from someone claiming to be a technician from Microsoft.
According to the FTC, there were 143,000 tech support scams reported in 2018. How can you identify these scams and avoid having your information compromised? It is important to remember the following tips:
- A legitimate Microsoft technician will never reach out to you; the only way to communicate with a technician from Microsoft is to reach out to them first.
- If an error message pops up on your computer that has a phone number, do not call the number. A legitimate error message will never have a phone number.
- A legitimate technician will never ask you to pay using gift cards.
These tips can help prevent you from falling victim to a tech support scam, but what can be done if scammers have already gained access to your computer? The following are some steps you can take to protect your information:
- Use a separate device unaffected by the hack to reset the passwords to all of your accounts. This includes your bank account, email account(s), etc.
- Delete any software the scammers asked you to install.
- If you have already paid the scammers, contact your credit card company to dispute the charges. You will need to be issued a new credit card to prevent the scammers from using it.
- Reinstall Windows. This will remove any programs and files on your computer, and will prevent scammers from gaining access to your computer again.
If you think you have fallen victim to a tech support scam and are unsure of what to do, give the Computer Guild a call today! Our technicians will be happy to advise you on the next steps to take, helping you protect your information and giving you peace of mind.