Protect yourself from tech support scams

Protect yourself from tech support scams

Don't let scammers posing as tech support take advantage of you

by Kurt Knutsson

The Tech Support Scam starts with what appears to be a helping hand to fix a technical glitch.   The criminals will send a message by phone, email, or text, convincing you you need help.    

With so many new computer scams and schemes out there, it’s hard to feel safe. A scam to look out for is “technical support scams.” These scams use the guise of your computer needing technical support to lure you into a trap.

Some even try to get you to pay for them to fix a nonexistent problem, while others use your need for technical support to gain access to your device and install malware to attain your personal information.

Now complete peace of mind when dealing with scammers may be unattainable, but here are a few ways you can set some of your worries aside and protect yourself from tech support scams.

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How do tech support scams work?

Technical support scams can appear in many ways. Below are some of the most common ways technical support scammers can try to attack you and your devices.

Scams by pop-up browsers

Pop-up browsers are one of the most common technical support scams. These scams often appear randomly on your device while using a web browser or application. These pop-ups will display messages requesting you to take action and work with technical support to fix a problem that does not exist. These messages appear with the hopes that you will believe you need technical support and click the link or call the number they provided to gain full access to your device.

Scams by phone

Scam calls can come to your phone with someone pretending to be a support representative from a tech company. These scammers are well-versed and will try to convince you that your device has an issue with the hopes of gaining access and installing harmful software. Please note that major companies will not contact customers unprompted. These calls will be from scammers.

Scams by email

Tech support scammers will send emails with fake error messages asking you to click links, call a number, or update and install software to fix a problem with your device. This type of scammer is hoping you will not notice and believe that they are the major tech company they are posing as, to gain access to your device or your personal information.  

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How can I protect myself from tech support scams?

If scammers ask for access or information

  • Never give remote access to your device in order to fix it. Only do so if you know it is a legitimate representative from the company you have requested support from.
  • Do not pay or give payment information in exchange for technical support. Tech companies will not call you and ask for payment to fix your device.

If scammers call your phone

  • If you answer the phone and it’s a technical support scam, hang the phone up immediately and block the number.
  • If you get a call from an unknown phone number, do not answer it. If the person leaves a voicemail, delete it.
  • Pay attention to the phone number. Scammers will use fake numbers to get you to answer the phone.

If scammers send you an email

  • If you receive a technical support scam email, report it as spam and delete it.
  • If you open the scam email, do not click on any of the links or pages and delete it immediately.
  • Be on the lookout for messages that contain poor grammar, misspellings or come from unknown email addresses.

 

What do I do if I provided personal information to a scammer

First of all, don’t be the slightest bit embarrassed, as it could have happened to genuinely anyone. And the worst thing you can do is stay silent, as you can help prevent this from happening to others.

Stop all communication: Cease all contact with the scammer immediately. Do not engage further or respond to any messages or calls from them.

Report the scam: Report the incident to your local law enforcement agency or the cybercrime unit in your country. Provide them with all the information you have about the scammer and the communication you had with them.

Notify your bank and credit card companies: If you shared any financial information, contact your bank and credit card companies right away. Inform them about the potential scam and ask for advice on how to secure your accounts.

Change passwords: Change all your online account passwords, especially those related to sensitive information or financial accounts. Use strong, unique passwords for each account. One of the best password managers out there is 1Password. With no known security breaches or vulnerabilities, 1Password is a solid option as a paid password manager. It utilizes a well-designed interface, which features core components that are expected from premium, paid password managers. At the time of publishing, it starts at $2.99 a month, billed annually, for a total of $35.88/year, and you can save more with a family option which includes 5 family members for $60/year.

Get more details about my best expert-reviewed Password Managers of 2023 here.

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Enable two-factor authentication (2FA): Wherever possible, enable two-factor authentication on your accounts. This adds an extra layer of security and makes it harder for scammers to access your accounts.

Monitor your accounts: Keep a close eye on your bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial accounts for any suspicious activity. Report any unauthorized transactions immediately.

Inform credit bureaus: Consider contacting credit reporting agencies and place a fraud alert on your credit report. This can help prevent the scammer from opening new accounts in your name.

Be cautious about future communications: Be vigilant with any future communications from unknown sources. Scammers may try to target you again using different tactics.

Have a good antivirus software on all your devices: The best way to protect yourself from having your data breached by these tech support scammers is to have antivirus protection installed on all your devices. Having antivirus software on your devices will make sure you are stopped from clicking on any potential malicious links which may install malware on your devices, allowing hackers to gain access to your personal information.

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Use identity theft protection: If a scammer got a hold of your personal information, you may consider a service that will walk you through every step of the reporting and recovery process, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from this type of fraud is to subscribe to an identity theft service. My top recommendation is Identity Guard.

Identity Guard will monitor personal information like your home title, Social Security Number (SSN), phone number, and email address and alert you if it is being sold on the dark web or being used to open an account.  They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals.

One of the best parts of using Identity Guard includes identity theft insurance of up to 1 million dollars to cover losses and legal fees and a white glove fraud resolution team where a US-based case manager helps you recover any losses.

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Read more of my review of best identity theft protection services here.

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Kurt’s key takeaways

Protecting yourself from tech support scams and identity theft is crucial in today’s digital world. Always be cautious of unsolicited calls or emails claiming to offer technical support. Avoid providing personal information or granting remote access to unknown individuals. Invest in good antivirus software to safeguard your devices from malware and potential threats. Additionally, consider subscribing to an identity theft protection service to monitor and secure your sensitive information. By staying vigilant and taking preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cybercriminals.

What steps have you taken to protect yourself from tech support scams, and have you ever encountered any suspicious pop-ups, emails, or phone calls that might have been related to such scams? If so, how did you handle it? Let us know by commenting below.

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5 comments

Mike August 27, 2023 - 2:40 pm

I love the tech scammers that call. I will play along with them just to ruin their day. After they have run through their spiel about my windows computer spreading malware, I will flip to the Linux side of one of my computers and follow their directions precisely. When they get no access or even an indication, they ask which OS version I’m running. When I tell them there is head scratching until I tell them that I usually run Linux and there were only one or two Win boxes that could have caused their issue. The other way I play with them is to tell them that I have multiple Win boxes running and they need to ID it by IP or computer name. At that point they curse at me and hang up. After 3 or 4 times like that, I receive no more calls.

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