2018-02-20: Warning about fraudulent tech-support scams

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Tech-support scams

Despite it being 2018 - criminals are not just using computers for fraud - they are often still using fraudulent telephone calls.  There are two common types of these I want to warn about.

Fraudulent Phone Calls

These start with a simple telephone call - to your home, cell, or office number.  They usually claim they are calling from Microsoft, but they could also claim they are calling from Apple, Dell, Google, or other tech companies.

How this scam works:

  • The call will come through unsolicited.  Caller ID may even display a company name like Microsoft or Apple.
  • The criminals will claim to be from a legitimate company and state that they are calling to fix a problem with your computer.
  • They will try to get you to visit websites that will allow them to remotely control your computer - in the guise of offering 'assistance'.
  • They will then either install software that lets them control your computer, or try to trick you into paying them to fix a non-existent problem.

Fraudulent Online Ads

These start with an online ad (possibly a pop-up ad, possibly just a displayed ad on your site).  They are usually disguised to look like warnings from legitimate anti-virus companies, but they are often made to look as frightening as possible.  Some even include a robotic computer voice describing the fake "problem".

Like the phone calls above, they try to get you to do one or more of the following:

  • Install malicious software which will allow them to control your computer.
  • Try to convince you to buy their software which will fix the non-existent problem.
  • They frequently have a phone number to call that claims they are Microsoft, Apple, etc., and then you are directed through the same sort of phone call described in the first section.

How can you stay safe from these scams?

  • These companies will never call you unsolicited about problems with your computer. If you receive a call from one of these companies claiming they are calling to fix an issue with your computer - they are fraudulent.  Don't engage with them, question them, etc.  Just hang up.
  • Consider using an advertisement blocker on your computer to avoid seeing these malicious ads.  We understand that there is a legitimate purpose to many ads - but so many legitimate sites are displaying malicious ads that it is basic Internet hygiene to use ad blockers these days.  One recommendation for adblocking software is Adblock Plus (available for free from www.adblockplus.org).


Article ID: 48799
Tue 2/20/18 11:58 AM
Thu 10/17/19 10:59 AM