For some time now, a variant of scam is being used by attackers to try to break into your computer. The fraudsters usually call you and, pretending to be well-established security companies, claim to have detected viruses or other threats in your computer. Taking advantage of your concerns about security, they alarm you to try to convince you that your computer is infected and in danger.
Then, they will want to take control over your computer and offer to solve all the issues detected. Usually, consumers will pay a lot of money to fix a nonexistent problem.
How Tech Support Scams Work
Everything begins with a cold phone call. These cyber-criminals take advantage of public directories in order to obtain your personal information.
Then, they will pretend to work with well-known companies or try to confuse you by using very technical terms. They may ask you to go to your computer and perform a series of complex tasks or ask you to grant them full access so they can operate remotely. All this with a single apparent aim: to fix your problem.
Once you give the attacker access, the effects on your computer all your personal data will be compromised.
Refund scam calls
Scammers use very sophisticated social engineering techniques. Be very careful, as there is even a refund scam call for victims of a tech support scam!
Basically, sometime after the “tech support” call, someone will call you again to see how satisfied you were with the service provided. If you say you weren´t and then get offered a refund, beware. Once again, they will want remote access to manage the refund or they will ask for your bank or credit card details. But the purpose is the same: to fool you and steal money and personal data from you.
Are there any other forms of tech support scam?
Yes. Lately, an increase in the telephone variant of tech support scam has been detected, but there are other ways. Here we explain all of them:
- The cold call. As we explained, you may get a call from someone claiming to be an antivirus company saying that they have detected a spyware problem and the way to fix it is by remotely accessing your computer. And it does not come cheap. They could be asking for 500$ for a fix, ask for your bank details to pay for the support bill, etc.
- Sponsored links. When you do a search online, for example, on Google, the first items to appear are advertisements. If someone searches for “tech support” or for a computer problem these ads may appear on top of the list as the scammers actually paid lots of money to rank high. Many of these links go directly to scammers.
- Pop ups. Tech support scams may also get to you via pop up alerts on your computer, alerting you of a problem detected and urging you to call them, for example.
What to do if you get a call
- Never give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.
- Do not trust caller ID to authenticate a caller. Cyber-criminals can fake them as well.
- If you ever need technical support, do not rely on online search results. Scammers publish fake support websites, online ads, “special” tools to fix all kinds of issues to trap you. If you are looking for real tech support, get the company’s contact information on their software package, on their verified official website or on your receipt. Panda’s official contact numbers are:
- Homeusers: 1-844-956-2648
- Corporate: 1-866-748-2157×2
- Homeusers: 1-844- 944-3863
- Corporate: 866-887-3957
- Homeusers: (0) 808 169 2280
- Corporate: 0800 368 7771
- Never, ever, give your password or bank details on the phone. No organization calls you and asks for personal information of this kind.
If you have taken the bait
If you think you might have downloaded malware from a scam site or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer, don’t panic.
- Update or download legitimate security software and scan your computer. If needed, you can try one of the Panda products or run our Panda Cloud Cleaner disinfection tool.
- Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use these passwords for other accounts, change those accounts, too.
- If you paid for bogus services with a credit card, call your credit card provider and ask to reverse the charges. Check your statements for any other charges you didn’t make, and ask to reverse those, too.
At Panda, we strongly recommend you to report the situation to the competent authorities:
- If you get a scam call, hang up, and report it at ftc.gov/complaint.
- If you believe that someone may have accessed your personal or financial information, visit the FTC’s identity theft website. You can minimize your risk of further damage and repair any problems already in place.
- Avoid phone scams by registering your home and cell phone numbers with the National Do Not Call Registry or by calling 1-888-382-1222. This national registry was created to offer consumers a choice regarding telemarketing calls. It won’t stop all unsolicited calls—but will help stop most.
- Report Telephone Fraud. If you believe you have been a victim of a telephone scam or telemarketing fraud, you can file an online complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or by phone at 1-877-382-4357.