Tech support scams in 2020 have increased 45 times

tech support scams

Tech support scams stole $7.7 million in the first four months of 2020, up 45 times from a year ago. The scammers use scare tactics to make you think you have a problem with your computer, software or internet. Then, they trick you into paying for unnecessary technical support that doesn’t fix anything and may compromise your data and security. Don’t fall prey to their tricks that end up wasting money for supposed subscription fees to your fake technical problems.

How do tech support scams work?

They may call you on your phone and say they represent Microsoft, Apple or other tech companies. Scammers can also spoof your caller ID so it looks like they are legitimate. From here, they ask you to give them remote access by installing an application. It sure looks like you have problems after the tech support scammers misrepresent your system to show fake glitches.

Likewise, tech support scams often display phony error messages on websites you visit, encouraging you to call them now. We’ve seen cases where they lock your browser and display pop-up messages that won’t go away.  All of this is done in hopes that you will call their technical support hotline.  Above all, be aware that Microsoft and Apple error messages never include a phone number.

Apple tech support scams are growing

Calls from fake Apple Support team members are growing. It often starts with a robocall warning that your Apple ID has been compromised. The scammers trick people into giving them remote access to their devices, often through legitimate software. If you’re asked to call 1.800.275.2273 or other fake numbers, you may hear that you’ve reach Apple Support. But not really.

Once scammers get remote access to your computer, they install fake virus scanners to detect fake threats. After that, they ask for payment to remove them. They might also infect your computer with actual malware that could cause data or financial loss. Additionally, they may ask for personal data such as logins and passwords. Note from Apple: Apple would never make these calls nor would they ever ask for remote access so don’t fall for it. 

If you receive a suspicious email that looks like it’s supposed to be from Apple, please forward it to reportphishing@apple.com.  If you believe that your Apple ID has been compromised, or if you might have entered your password or other personal info on a scam website, change your Apple ID password immediately. To report spam or other suspicious emails that you receive in your iCloud.com inbox, send them to abuse@icloud.com.  Additionally, you can report fraudulent tech support calls to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

What to do if you gave scammers information from a PC?

  • Uninstall applications that scammers asked to be install. If access has been granted, consider resetting the device.
  • Run a full scan with Microsoft Defender Antivirus to remove any malware. Apply all security updates as soon as they are available.
  • Change passwords.
  • Call your credit card provider to reverse the charges, if you have already paid.
  • Monitor anomalous logon activity. Use Windows Defender Firewall to block traffic to services that you would not normally access.
  • reporting tech support scams at www.microsoft.com/reportascam
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