After a long day, there is nothing like sitting down at your computer with a cup of tea to catch up on the news online. But what would you do if you were faced with a pop-up telling you that your computer has a virus and that ‘tech support’ is conveniently letting you know?
The solution seems only a quick call away. The popup even provides you with the 1800 number.
But, it’s the people who are claiming to help you that are about to load your computer full of junk and charge your credit card for the privilege.
What these scams look like
These tech scams can appear in various ways, whether by a popup on your browser or a call on your home phone number. Here’s what to look out for:
Over the phone
Usually calling from places such as India, these scammers target any person listed in the phone directories of the U.S, Canada, the UK, or Australia.
The scam is simple. Someone calls, pretending to be calling from Microsoft or a partner company. They ask you to give them remote control access of the machine, trick you into installing their software after they show you lists of fake error reports.
Once the installation is complete, they ask for your credit card details to charge you for the ‘anti-virus’ they have just installed. In the meantime, you have absolutely no way of knowing what has been installed and what kind of private information you have just given away. Microsoft is aware of these scams and reports on their website:
“You will never receive a legitimate call from Microsoft or our partners to charge you for computer fixes.”
Causing further distress, Bleeping computer recently reported on a particular type of scam that prevents users from even closing their browser without calling the number on their screen to have the message removed. This kind of scam borders on the edge of ransomware as you feel forced to call and inevitably pay to have your system ‘cleaned.’
These popups flood websites with high amounts of traffic and popular search engines. Even if you google tech support online these scammers have paid to reach the top of search engine listings. Even if they don’t convince you with the popup, they can easily convince you from a google search that they are a legitimate online tech service.
Consequences for scammers
Recently, a collection of US companies were reported and caught for running this kind of scam by using popups to scare users into calling for tech support and pushing them into purchasing services they didn’t need. CSO Australia reports:
“Charges have been filed against Missouri-registered firms Global Access Technical Support, Global sMind, Source Pundit, Helios Digital Media, and an Indian company, Global Ites Private Limited. Defendants include three individuals who own the firms.”
What you can do
- Ignore pop-ups within your browser that lock up your screen or ask you to call a number to ‘clean your system.’
- If your browser is locked by the popup, move your mouse to the clock in the bottom right hand corner of your screen and right click to open the ‘task manager.’ Select your web browser from the list and close the program.
- If the popups continue, run Emsisoft Emergency Kit to clear your computer of potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) that may be causing the constant popups.
- If you receive phone calls claiming to be tech support or Microsoft, simply hang up.
- If you are already infected and have paid for the service offered over the phone, immediately dispute the transaction with your bank and contact a trusted computer technician to remove the software that was installed by the scammer.
- Use a reputable anti-malware solution such as Emsisoft Anti-Malware to keep nasty popups out of your browser.
Have a great (scam-free) day!