It is undeniably normal and, in most cases, smart that we seek help from tech support for any hardware/software issues we come across with, but with how scammers evolved lately, it is not surprising even tech support scams are on a dramatic rise over the last couple of years.
Based on the records released by the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), they have gotten approximately 11,000 complaints associated with fraud tech team support, with monetary losses amounting to nearly $15 million, which saw an almost 90% increase from 2016. This isn’t looking good especially for big tech firms, as more and more scammers are impersonating well-known companies like Apple and Amazon. Microsoft alone had a drastic 24% increase in tech support scams over the year 2017.
Scammers pretending to be operating from legitimate tech support providers often message victims that their computer or device have problems needed to get resolved urgently. These are transmitted to random pop-up error messages that usually have malware inside if you “click” on it. In some scenario, victims were forced to pay huge sums of money due to ransomware, and have unknowingly paid for a fake software after clicking the questionable error message.
Tech support fraudsters even go so far as to offer paid software installation services, when the software in question is actually FREE from the legitimate provider. They commonly attract a lot of victims because their phony advertisements often appear at the top of online search results. One way of doing this is by maliciously posting at well-known Online Forums, which Search Engines usually prioritize in their online search results.
Although scams like these are prevalent upon the Internet, lots of them came from phone calls as well. Scammers will try and dupe unsuspecting victims to revealing their computer credentials, often under the guise of Computer IT Support.
Although as dangerous tech support scam is getting, we can lessen its grip by following these practical precautions:
Just because it’s one of the Top Search Results doesn’t mean it is the real deal.
Better to familiarize with the specific URL first. It is almost universal rule to always research what you’re about to research (“to think before you click.”) May it be from promotional pamphlets that came along with the software you bought, or any other official materials that give out legitimate information about a site – they are all good sources if properly documented.
Be wary. Never answer unwarranted phone calls. Never click error messages unless you’re familiar why. Be wary as well about software prices in the market to avoid paying for something that should be FREE.
Keep your line of defense more layered with added browser extensions and updated security software.
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