Every single day, scores of innocent people are trapped by scam artists into Online Tech Support Scams and forced to shell out hundreds of dollars for non-existent computer problems. The tool or medium they use to initiate communications with a potential victim is usually the computer or a telephone. They claim to be computer techs associated with genuine software providing companies like Microsoft or others and persuade you to perform a series of complex tasks, just to convince you that your computer is infected.
For proving their point right, these notorious so-called technicians confuse you with a barrage of technical terms, attempting to gain remote access to the computer or run the software you do not need at all. To be specific, the scammers try to take advantage of your reasonable concerns about viruses or performance issues by scaring you, by following one of these methods normally.
For instance, they may make use of the Event Viewer. The Event Viewer is a tool that collects and keeps a record of all of the log files from your computer. It is traditionally used by system administrators to diagnose certain errors. Most events that are displayed are harmless notifications, but the scam artists exploit these events as possible viruses on your PC. They may use a Remote Access software to ask for access to your computer. Never give it!
At times, they even target legitimate computer files and claim that they are viruses. Then, resort to nefarious tactics to scare you into believing they can offer a helping hand. All you need to do is to either enroll in worthless computer maintenance or warranty program or perform some steps as advised.
Avoid Online Tech Support Scams
First, never give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue. Avoid searching for help online. The online search result is certainly not 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.
Monitor your computer for unusual behavior. If you notice there is a departure from the standard behavior of the computer, check it for any malware presence for the following,
- New and unexpected toolbars
- Unexpected crashes
- Displaying of repeated error messages
- Inability to shut down or restart
Tech Support Scammers can also do the following:
- Play audio message
- Display cooked up error messages
- Disable Task manager
- Continuously display pop-up windows.
If the above test is positive, remove the malware:
- Set your security software, internet browser, and operating system to download and install updates automatically.
- You should always have anti-virus software installed on your machine. It is advisable to update the security software, and then run it to scan the computer for viruses and spyware. Update or download legitimate antivirus or security software and scan your computer. Delete anything it identifies as a problem. Restart your computer for allowing the changes to take effect.
- Change any passwords that you’ve handed out. If you use these passwords for other accounts, change those accounts, too. Also, if you paid for bogus services with a credit card, call your credit card provider and request him to reverse the charges.
- Put your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry, and then report illegal sales calls.
If your computer is covered under a warranty period that offers free tech support, contact the manufacturer.
Never respond to anyone who initiates the first contact, offering computer support. Hang up the phone. Do not reply to such mail. Do not click on any pop-ups which may say that your computer needs to be cleaned up.
Read here about the most common Online and Email scams & frauds.
Report a technical support scam
If you wish, you can report a technical support scam to Microsoft by visiting this one.
If you are of the view that someone may have accessed your personal or financial information intentionally, visit the FTC’s identity theft website to file a complaint. You can minimize your risk of further damage and repair any problems already in place. Just file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint or IC3.gov.
The agencies, following the complaints from consumers, can detect patterns of fraud and abuse. Their Complaint Assistant then could readily offer assistance. To use the Complaint Assistant follow these steps. Choose a complaint category. If you do not find a suitable match, select “Other”. Answer a few questions related to your complaint and narrate the exploiting episode in your own words.
What if you allowed remote access to your computer
If you allowed access to your computer, your system could have been completely compromised. There could be malware or even a keylogger planted. I suggest you immediately back up your data and keep it on an external drive. I would also suggest that change the passwords of all your online accounts using ANOTHER PC right away. Having done this, the safest thing for you to be 100% sure, would be to reformat your Hard Drive and fresh install Windows.
Remember, Microsoft will never contact you on its own to repair or clean up your Windows computer. If they do, you can be sure that it’s a scam. Stay safe from such “Microsoft Scams“. If you do need to, then this link will offer you several legitimate ways to contact Microsoft Support.
Speaking of scams, some of these links are sure to interest you. Do have a look at some of them: