Technical Support Scam

Be very cautious of companies claiming to be able to help you fix your computer.  The latest technical support scam will try to trick a user into calling a toll-free number to solve their computer problem. The scammer will then attempt to convince you to allow them to access to your computer. They will tell you that they can fix your problem, but while logged in to your computer, they will pretend that you have a more serious problem that demands your immediate attention. They will offer to save you for a fee, which is usually $199. These crooks will contact you one of three ways.

The Website Scam

The latest technical support scam uses common search terms like “Norton Support”, “Microsoft Support”, “fix slow computer”, “HP printer problem”, or something similar to direct an unsuspecting users to a fake website. This site will look legitimate and probably have logos from actual companies. The site will encourage you to call a toll-free number to fix the problem you searched for. Their ad will probably appear towards the top of the search results and be labeled as an “ad” by the search provider, but may also be listed in the main search results area.

The Download Scam

In some cases, you will be directed to a site that offers a download to a free utility that will fix the problem. They will tell you that, in addition to the problem you were trying to solve, that you have a problem bigger problem and need to call their 800 number.  Even if you don’t call immediately, a few days later you might suddenly get a pop-up or voice alert that warns you of extreme danger. It may identify itself as being from Microsoft, your internet provider, or an antivirus company. This alert is not real. It is the virus, or more correctly the trojan, that is creating this technical support scam. The scammer will direct you to call their fake technical support number.

The Caller Scam

Another technical support scam is to call you directly and claim your computer has been hacked. They may or may not know you by name, but will always identify themselves as being from a reputable company or Microsoft partner and warn you that you are in imminent danger. Once they have you convinced, they will ask to allow access to your computer to show you the origin of the danger. 

Hang Up!

Regardless of how they got you on the phone, hang up. It’s a fake call. Always. Microsoft will never call you, and most companies like HP or Norton will not charge you for support. If you get a pop-up with a phone number. Don’t call it. It’s a scammer. Always. No real antivirus company will prompt you to call them if there is a problem. If you get dupped and call their number they will be very pushy and convincing.  These tech support scammers do this for a living, and I have seen very clever people get fooled.

The Technical Support Scam

If you talk to them long enough they might encourage you to allow them to have access to your computer so that they may fix the problem. Once they have access they will nearly always take you to a feature in your Windows PC called the Event Viewer. See below.  The scammer will inform you that you are currently in great danger and that you are currently being hacked.  THIS IS NOT TRUE. The image below was taken from a perfectly healthy PC. The Event Viewer always looks this way. This screen is meant for technicians to identify issues and lists everything including the slightest hiccup.  To a real technician, 99% of these alerts can be ignored. These scammers are very good at convincing people that they are in imminent danger.  Do not believe them.

Technical Support Scam

OMG! You’re Being Hacked!

Clean Up

If at some point you got fooled and let them have access to your computer, don’t feel bad. I have had many savy customers be conned. Now it’s time to clean up. First you must stop any popups and remove any software installed by the scammer. The pop-ups may be difficult to remove via your current antivirus and may need a technician. It is also possible that they may continue to have a “backdoor” to access your computer. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a technician take a look to be sure they had not left any access points to your computer. Call your local computer guy. If you don’t have one, please consider calling Rescue My Gadget at 913-825-6830 or email help@rescuemygadget.com. We can solve you problem remotely or on-site. Check our prices online.

Thanks

-Tom