Avoiding “Tech Support” Telephone Scams
Computer “technical support” calls that originate overseas and victimize American consumers are increasing in frequency, thanks to cheap international phone rates and advanced phone dialing technologies. CTTechJunkie received one of these calls and we recorded the conversation in the video above.
This particular scam begins with a call from the “technical support department” claiming that a computer within the household has downloaded some malicious software and potentially compromised by hackers. After gaining the trust of the victim, the scammer on the other end guides the user to load a Microsoft event viewer utility that’s built into windows and displays innocuous errors for troubleshooting purposes. The scammers use the items labeled ‘warning’ and ‘error’ to convince their victim that something ominous is amiss.
The solution the scammers offer is to connect to the victim’s computer using remote access software. This is usually a very simple process even for the most technically challenged individuals, as the scammer guides their victim to a web page that initiates the remote access software, with the scammer walking the victim through overriding the Windows security warnings.
Once the scammer is in, he or she has full access to the user’s machine from a half a world away and can load in software that actually does cause harm to the computer. The solution, of course, is to hand over a credit card number and pay for their assistance. Many times the scammers don’t remove the software they installed, requiring additional services from a local computer shop to fully correct the problem the scammers caused.
There is no way to prevent or stop these calls from occurring and are nearly impossible to prosecute given their international origins. The best defense is to simply hang up on any caller claiming that a computer in the household is compromised and contact an Internet service provider or computer manufacturer directly if there’s concern a household computer may actually be compromised.
The Federal Trade Commission has a helpful page with tips to avoid being scammed and how to help people who may have fallen victim to one.