Tech support scams are a global problem, impacting people of all ages. It started with cold calls, with scammers pretending to be company employees fraudulently notifying people that they were victims of malware infections or other harmful attacks. This evolved into fake “pop-ups” displayed on people’s computers, again convincing them that something was wrong with their computers so the scammers could extract payment for “fixing” fake issues.
Today, fraudsters have adapted to evolving technology using more sophisticated tactics or ploys to victimise online users. However, there are still some basics which you can follow to help protect yourself.
- Three out of five consumers have encountered a tech support scam in the last 12 months.
- One out of six consumers was tricked into continuing the fraud, often leading to victims losing hundreds of dollars to the fraudsters.
- Millennials (aged 24-37) and Gen Zers (aged 18-23) have the highest exposure to tech support scams.
- One out of 10 millennials and one out of 10 Gen Zers that encountered a scam fell for it and lost money.
- Among those who continued with a scam, the most common issue experienced during the interaction was computer problems (30%), followed by compromised passwords (23%) and fraudulent use of credit/debit/store cards (18%).
Protecting yourself from tech SCAMs
- If the spelling and grammar of an email are a little off, then there’s a high chance that it could be from a spammer.
- Make sure you check the address of a link before clicking it. This is important for all internet users; by training yourself to identify links, you significantly improve your chances of avoiding scams, viruses, and spyware.
- Companies rarely ask you to give a password to get into your account. In most cases, you’ll need to log into an account to access support first, so they should know your details without asking.
- When downloading software, always ensure that you’re downloading it from a reputable website. When possible, do a Google search of the software you want to download to find an official website instead of accepting it from strangers.
- A common strategy that scammers use is to scare you into taking action. They use threatening words like “high risk” and may tell you that your computer is already infected to give you a sense of urgency. If you notice this, immediately put down the phone.
- In most cases, if your computer is experiencing a problem, you’ll be the first to see it. If someone tries to convince you there’s an issue with your computer, they could be a scammer looking to gain your trust.
- Using a secure web browser can help eliminate the majority of scam attempts. They can filter out questionable websites to ensure you’re not clicking on malicious sites.
- If someone insists that you must call them to receive tech support, then it’s very likely a scam. This is because most legitimate support companies have many ways to provide support, such as email or social media. Scammers typically rely on phone calls because it is tough to trace them.
Stay alert, and be sensible.
Everyone thinks that a SCAM will not happen to them. However, threat actors are becoming increasingly sophisticated at extracting personal and financial information from victims. Stop communicating and verify the request through normal and secure channels when you sense a problem.