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 trying to convince 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 by using more sophisticated tactics or ploys to victimise users online. 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 with the scam, 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 greatly improve your chances of avoiding not just scams, but also viruses and spyware.
- Companies will rarely ever ask you to give a password in order to get into your account. In most cases, you’ll need to log into an account in order to access support in the first place, so they should know all of your details.
- 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 they may tell you that your computer has already been infected to give you a sense of urgency. If you notice this, immediately put down the phone.
- In the majority of cases, if your computer is experiencing a problem, you’ll be the first to notice it. If someone tries to convince you that there’s an issue with your computer, then 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 that you’re not clicking on any 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 they can’t be traced.