scam alert popup on laptop

Last year, Microsoft reported 153,000 cases of customers who encountered or fell prey to tech support scams. This was a 24 % increase from the previous year. The data might indicate that more people are getting caught in the net, but it could also suggest that tech support scammers are getting smarter. The U.S Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) estimates that claimed losses due to tech support fraud amounted to $15 million in the same year.

What is tech support scam?

It’s where scammers contact you claiming to be tech specialists from Samsung, Microsoft or other tech firms. They will tell you that your computer has a problem and offer to fix it for you. In the process of guiding you through the process, you may unknowingly give them access to your machine and other personal information like bank details.

Watch out for the obvious:

Strange Communication

Don’t talk to strangers, don’t take gifts from strangers… mama used to say. Some things make the hair on the back of your neck stand up in the first place. It is that strange email or new phone number it is that pop-up message inviting you to click to clean or increase the speed of your computer. Even though the scammers keep devising new methods and switching from emails, to social media and phone calls- all have one in common. They are strange and out of the blue.

Help you didn’t ask for

You have to ask to receive. If you are an unsolicited help, you are likely being deceived. Globally, customer or tech support has not grown to the level where they predict your needs. Your tech devices and software come with customer support numbers. In case you need any help you will have to reach out to the manufacturer. For your bank or ISP, their contact information is on their official websites.

If someone out of the blue offers to help with your computer you need to back away. Ignore the call or click to cancel the link and pop messages. Send the email to trash box. (That is even if they address you by your name, or provide you the correct ID or claim to be your Internet Service providers).

There is an urgency to their instructions.

Even bank robbers know that they have to accomplish their heists in a matter of seconds. The same applies to tech support fraudsters. Once you respond to the email or pick up their phone call, you will be warned of looming danger and asked to act fast. They will ask you to either download and install something quickly or to give them the passwords to your accounts hastily before something goes wrong.

Emails or Pop-up Messages with Errors

It is easy to verify the authenticity of an email message or pop-up message claiming to be from your tech company. Things to look out for include correct web address and domain. For starters, an official mail from your tech company can never get through Gmail or Yahoo. Other things to look out for include company logo, and grammar. Poor grammar and misspellings are apparent signs of fraud.

Phone Calls that Ask you to Provide Your Account/ Personal Details

Be wary when someone asks for your details. Whether it is a genuine person or fraudster, you should always find out if they have authentication or privilege to such information. If that happens to you, and you sense some urgency cut off the communication immediately. For your computer or phone, quickly turn it off if you think you have clicked on a fraudulent link.

Put up a safety fence to better protect yourself:

It will take more than just being on the lookout. You will have to put up a defense structure around your digital life.

Seek for proof of authenticity

After encountering an email, phone call, link or pop up message, you will most likely want to know if it was genuine. The most straightforward thing to do is contact your manufacturer through their official numbers or email.

However, when you decide to seek information elsewhere, avoid sponsored search results. The scammers might have websites and social media pages that also rank top of search results. Use only sites and portals that you know and trust.

Update your software

Apple, Microsoft, Google, and others are doing their best to protect users against scams. They upload regular updates. You can take advantage of that by ensuring you update your system software, web browsers, media players, and antivirus package.

Avoid unencrypted websites

There is a difference between HTTP and HTTPS websites. The S stands for secure. HTTPS should be the only website you browse and or make your online purchases from. You can tell it’s an HTTPS website by the sign of a green padlock before the link on the address bar.

For those who have fallen prey

Uninstall any installed apps and do a full scan and system rest (if you have backed up your data). There are also channels for reporting scams. These include your official manufacturer’s website such as Microsoft, Apple or Samsung. By reporting the fraud, you will be helping your tech company to put up the right structures that are impermeable to that kind of scam in future.

 

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