Scam of the day – May 18, 2016 – Bing bans tech support ads

Tech support scams have been a major problem for quite a while and I have reported to you about them for years. At their essence these scams generally involve you being contacted by phone, often by someone purportedly from Microsoft or Apple informing you that problems have been detected on your computer that need to be remedied immediately.  They then either ask for remote access so that they can fix the problem at no cost to you or they ask for personal information.   In both situations the caller is up to no good.  If you provide remote access to your computer you will have effectively turned over all of the information in your computer to the caller who can and will then use that information to make you a victim of identity theft or install ransomware on your computer and extort a payment from you in order to unlock your computer.  If you provide personal information by phone or in an email or text message, that information too will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.

However, the tech support scammers now also reach their victims through ads in online search engines such as Google and Bing.  Because it can sometimes be so difficult for consumers to distinguish between a legitimate tech support company and a scam, Bing, which is operated by Microsoft has just banned all third party advertisements for tech support companies on Bing.  Similarly, Google announced that starting on July 13th, it will no longer accept advertisements from payday loan companies, a business that while sometimes legitimate is filled with scammers.

TIPS

As for the most common tech support scams which start with a phone call, it is important to remember that neither Microsoft nor Apple will contact you by phone in regard to diagnosing software problems. Neither will they contact you by way of emailed messages.  If someone contacts you by phone unsolicited by you indicating that they are from Microsoft tech support and they are calling to help you with a problem that you did not contact them about, you should immediately hang up.  You are talking to a scammer.  It should be noted, however, that Microsoft does regularly issue software security updates, but they do this either in automated updates if you have provided for this service or on their website.