SCAM ALERT: Legit Companies Don’t Call You to Offer Tech Support
Illegal robocalls are a hassle, but illegal robocalls perpetuated by scammers are a danger. Benita from Washington, DC, wrote in with this warning about a phone scam where the caller pretends to be offering tech support:
“Have you received a call telling you that they notice that you are having problems with your computer, and you should go to “run” and enter a code — which would allow them to take over your computer and repair your problem? This is a major SCAM and your computer will be corrupted. Hang up — do not continue call.”
One way the scam works, as Jeffrey from Fallston, Maryland, tells us, is that the fraudster will try to get you to allow him or her to take over your computer:
“I received a call from someone claiming to be working with Microsoft who told me that my computer was infected with a virus and that I need to take action immediately. Being an IT person, I knew this was a scam and decided to play along. The scammer had me open up the Windows Event Viewer and tell them how many errors. There were 21,000 errors listed (something that every IT person knows is normal) and their response was “My God, I’ve never seen that many errors before. Your computer is heavily infected.” Then, they wanted me to go to a website and download a piece of software that would allow them to remotely control my computer. That is where I had to pretend like I was dumb and couldn’t install the software. After about 30 minutes, the scammer caught on that I was wasting his time and called me a “Bloody Bastard” before hanging up on me.”
If a caller directs you to a website to install software that will let him or her access your computer to “fix it,” don’t fall for it! If you do, your computer and your personal information are visible to the scammer and you are vulnerable. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from tech support, your best defense is simply to hang up. Follow these additional tips from the FTC to avoid getting scammed:
- Don’t give out any personal information to anyone that calls you out of nowhere. Do not give out your user name, passwords, credit card numbers, not even your address.
- Don’t rely on caller ID. Spoofing, where criminals make it look like they are legit callers is very common. Don’t be misled.
- Don’t purchase any software or tech service from anyone who cold calls you.
- Don’t visit websites or download software at the direction of a caller, and never give control of your computer to a third party to someone who calls out of the blue.
- Do report scams to your local law enforcement, state attorney general, and the Federal Trade Commission, at FTC Complaint Assistant, https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1. If the scammer claimed to be working for Microsoft, you can report the scam to the company here.
Scam robocalls are a menace, but together we can end them. We’re calling on the phone companies to provide free tools to block robocalls. Join us here!