Online Remote Computer Repair Scams Are Everywhere
Every week, we get several emails from people who have fallen for a computer repair scam. They have given their credit card information and access to their computers to criminals — and it usually always starts with a phone call. It goes like this. The phone call comes unexpectedly, out of the blue, the computer user is informed that their computer is infected with something and/or is sending and spreading malware or viruses and infecting other computers. Of course the caller has the cure — the fix — the solution.
Sadly, many people fall for this and give access to their computers to these scammers who then connect to the customer’s computer and proceed to “”fix” it. But they don’t fix it. Many times they install worthless software, or software anyone can get free, or worse, they install malware to steal your passwords and usernames, and thus access to your bank accounts and other highly sensitive and personal information. Users give the criminals their credit card information, and in the best case scenario, they are charged a few hundred dollars — in the word case, their card numbers are stolen and used to make purchases and/or steal identities.
We warn you again — never ever give ANY information to anyone who calls you out of the blue, no matter who they say they represent. One of the biggest scams going is the one where the caller identifies himself or herself as a Microsoft employee telling you that your Windows computer is infected with malware and that your computer is infecting other computers on the Internet. If you have caller ID their number may show that their are calling from a Microsoft number — but they’re not. It’s really easy to spoof caller ID.
Remember this: No legitimate company is going to call you out of the blue and tell you that your computer is infected. NONE. NADA. ZERO. If you get a call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft or some other legitimate sounding company, hang up. Do not give them access to your computer. Do not give them your credit card number. Do not give them any password.
We have published this advice before, yet every week we get several people who come to us for help after falling for a scam. And we help them by removing all the malware installed by the scammers, and fixing things these scammers intentionally broke (so they can come back again and get more money from you).
So if you remember nothing else from this tip, remember this:
If you get a call from anyone claiming to be from Microsoft or some other legitimate sounding company — or someone who tosses around complex computer terms and claims he or she can fix your computer — hang up. Hang up the phone and do not give them any information. none. nada. zero. If they continue to call after this report them to your phone company and/or your local authorities. The important thing is: Never give your information to anyone who calls you out of the blue telling you that you have problems with your computer. Never give access to your computer to anyone who calls out of the blue and warns you that your computer is infected. It’s always a scam – always.
And if you are one who has already fallen for this scam, call your credit card company right away and tell them what happened. Tell them you were scammed and have the charges removed from your credit card. You should be able to get charges made by scam companies removed from your credit card. You can, if you wish, report it to your local authorities, although we doubt that it will do much good. Scammers are professional crooks and they’re are not going to operate under the same name or from the same location or use the same methods for very long. They’re going to move around, change names, and change schemes, and it’s very hard to catch up with them.
” …If You Get a Call
If you get a call from someone who claims to be a tech support person, hang up and call the company yourself on a phone number you know to be genuine. A caller who creates a sense of urgency or uses high-pressure tactics is probably a scam artist.
Keep these other tips in mind:
- Don’t give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.
- Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller. Criminals spoof caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company or a local number, when they’re not even in the same country as you.
- Online search results might not be the best way to find technical support or get a company’s contact information. Scammers sometimes place online ads to convince you to call them. They pay to boost their ranking in search results so their websites and phone numbers appear above those of legitimate companies. If you want tech support, look for a company’s contact information on their software package or on your receipt.
- Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support.
- If a caller pressures you to buy a computer security product or says there is a subscription fee associated with the call, hang up. If you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly and ask for help.
- Never give your password on the phone. No legitimate organization calls you and asks for your password.
- Put your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry, and then report illegal sales calls.
How to Spot a Refund Scam
If you paid for tech support services, and you later get a call about a refund, don’t give out any personal information, like your credit card or bank account number. The call is almost certainly another trick to take your money.
The refund scam works like this: Several months after the purchase, someone might call to ask if you were happy with the service. When you say you weren’t, the scammer offers a refund.
Or the caller may say that the company is going out of business and providing refunds for “warranties” and other services.
In either case, the scammers eventually ask for a bank or credit card account number. Or they ask you to create a Western Union account. They might even ask for remote access to your computer to help you fill out the necessary forms. But instead of putting money in your account, the scammers withdraw money from your account.
If you get a call like this, hang up, and report it at http://ftc.gov/complaint …”
See we told you — the U.S. government has some good advice for you to follow no matter where you live. Don’t get scammed. We hate to see any of you being taken advantage of by charlatans and criminals. You can read more tips and info at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0346-tech-support-scams .
During the holiday season the number of scams increase. Don’t let a scammer ruin the holidays for you.