Tech Support Scams Continue to Evolve

By | September 4, 2017
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Tech Support Scams Continue to Evolve

One day last week,  I was looking at freeware picks, and site picks, and evaluating them for possible inclusion in our newsletters. I had 12-15 tabs open at the time, when suddenly, what to my bloodshot eyes should appear? This:

The scams never stop ... be safe! Cloudeight Internet

And accompanying these ominous warnings including “There is a great threat of leaking your personal data. So you need to respond swiftly! Trojan Virus may have already hurt your hard disk and its data. That is why we are checking and verifying your current system security. Do not waste your time and consult one of our service centers or call us.”

I really love the last line “Do not waste your time and consult one of our service centers”, because that is exactly what you’d be doing if you did.

Also , accompanying this “warning”, was a loud, annoying, continuous beeping sound, coming from my laptop.  I can imagine someone seeing this for the first time, and who had never heard of these kinds of tech support scams before, panicking and calling that number. But anyone who does is probably going to get ripped off for hundreds of dollars.

Now,  it just so happens that when this “warning” popped up out of nowhere, I could not close the window. Using Alt+F4 did not work, and clicking the “X” would have opened up other potential warnings – even download. So here was no apparent way to close it. Trying to close the browser does not work; trying to close the window does not work. The beeping continues and the “warning” seems dire.

I closed the fake scam window using Task Manager to end the browser process containing the warning – which is nothing but a web page designed to look like a warning.  I was using Firefox at the time, so I just found the Firefox process in Task Manger, and right-clicked on it and clicked “End process”. You can do this with any browser process, although in some browsers, like Chrome, each open browser tab is a separate process.

Cloudeight Internet

If you’re not sure how to end the browser process that is displaying the warning,  simply restart your PC. Keep in mind that when you restart to close the fake scam warning, when you reopen your browser after restarting, it’s will ask if you want to restore the pages that were open when restarted your computer. In this kind of situation, always click “No”. Clicking “Yes” may put you right back to where you started with the fake Tech Support Scam “warning” beeping away and staring you right in the eyeballs. You don’t want to get yourself stuck in that loop.

It’s not real. It’s just a scam. The whole point of this kind of scam is to get you to  call a phone number – where upon you’ll be told your PC is terribly infected, your personal data in at risk, in fact all your data might be immediately erased if you don’t get this fixed up right now. And of course, they’ll be at the ready with the remedy. All you have to do is let them connect to your PC and they’ll either run a fake scan that show hundreds of problems, and then tell you that your PC can be fixed up if you just give them a credit card number. And you’ll be charged a hundred dollars or more. After you pay these pirates, they’ll install some freeware on your PC, then run another fake scan that shows they’ve miraculously fixed your PC and you’re good to go.

It’s just a scam to steal your money by frightening you. It’s all about using your fear to get you to panic and to get your money.

Know this: Windows never pops up warnings telling you that you’re in danger and to call a phone number. No legitimate security software will show you warnings with a phone number to call and listing a series of dire consequences if you don’t comply.

The reason why these kinds of tech support scams are everywhere and why they continue to evolve is because these criminals are making millions of dollars by tricking people into calling for help.

If you see one of these scams, don’t panic. Stop and think.

If you can’t get rid of the warning dialog (actually a web page) just restart your computer. If, after restarting your computer your browser asks you if you want to restore the pages that were open when you restarted your PC, click “No”.

We have more more articles that will help you avoid falling victim to one of these tech-support scams. Please take some time to review them:

Tech Support Scams are Everywhere

Tech Support Scams, Microsoft Support Scams: Scams Scams Everywhere!

The best way to keep from being a victim is not to panic. Stay informed and use your common sense. The more you know the less you’re likely to fall for one of these scams.


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9 thoughts on “Tech Support Scams Continue to Evolve

  1. Peter

    Thanks for your interesting article.
    I’m very familiar with this nonsense and had dozens since the beginning of this year.
    I’m not particularly worried about them because I run all browsers in Sandboxie ,
    where you can delete the whole browser session in a few clicks by emptying the sandbox
    and nothing is left on your system.

    It’s a different story for people who don’t use sandboxing for their browsers.
    All kinds of trash can be left in your browser and temp files , so I would recommend
    a thorough scan afterwards.Certainly delete browser history or selectively remove these malware URLs
    and cookies and temp files and possibly add-ons.

    Reply
    1. infoave Post author

      These are just web pages, they don’t leave anything on your computer other than cookies. You don’t get malware from cookies or “temp files”. There is being careful, then there is being paranoid. We are not fans of Sandboxie… for a number of reasons. If you’re truly concerned about security, using a VM would be much more secure.

      Reply
  2. Rhonda Stephen

    Hi TC and Darcy:
    I had this happen exactly as you explained but thanks to you both I knew what to do. It is alarming for sure but like you said “don’t panic”. I used Task Manager and got rid of it.
    Thank you so much for all the good advice you share.
    God Bless
    Rhonda

    Reply
  3. Ellie

    Thanks for the great advice as always!

    How do they get the scam warning on your screen in the first place?

    Reply
  4. Scott

    How is this a demonstration of scams “continuing to evolve”? This is just another one doing the same thing as a million other ones have done – scare the user into calling a phone number and let a scammer remote in to their computer. Been happening for a long time, and will continue to be successful as long as there are gullible people in the world.

    Reply
    1. infoave Post author

      They continue to evolve in that they are becoming more sophisticated. Unlike you, Scott, not everyone who reads these pages is an advanced Windows user. This ad is step up the generational iterations of scam ads in that it’s not as easy to close as most of the older ones which can be dispatched with ALT + F4 or just closing the tab.

      If everyone was an advanced Windows user like you, there would be no need for Windows tips and tricks – and no need to warn people not to fall for scams like this.

      Being condescending doesn’t help people, Scott. We will never forgot our beginning days with Windows and the Internet over two decades ago… we will never look down on people for not knowing as much about computers as advanced users do.

      Using the word “evolution” was just an easy way of warning people that criminals will continue to get smarter and continue to use every trick to get easy money from those who are most vulnerable – and that some ads can’t be closed easily (Alt + F4 ) or closing the browser tab or browser.

      We’ll continue to try to protect those most vulnerable by doing whatever we can including taking license with the meaning of the word “evolution”.

      We don’t think being condescending is a good approach. Just because someone is not as smart as you are with computers, does not make them a fool.

      Reply
  5. Arnie Brown

    I’m one of those “not as smart” old farts, that has a computer. THANKS FOR THINKING OF US.
    Arnie Brown.

    Reply
  6. Donna Coulter

    Here is a scam that I haven’t heard of before …I am still puzzling about how it can happen and what
    I could have done.—I did however immediately contacted Visa and had them stop any use of the
    number. (that part of it worked). However this is what I found on Facebook when browsing through my many relations pictures. In among the pictures one caught me eye. I couldn’t make out what it was so I brought it up and there was a letter upside down — when turned it upright there was my complete visa number in bold print (not a picture of it just the number.—I immediately call Visa…I tried to print it but the printer was not working so I saved it. BUT WHERE I don’t know. That wasn’t a sane thing to do but I wasn’t really in my right mind at the time. [ BY THE WAY I HAVE NEVER LET ANYONE USE MY CARD]…I WILL BE ASKING FOR YOUR HELP IMMEDIATELY.

    Reply

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