This is the third of three Scams of the day being published in advance due to my having limited access to the Internet over the next few days.
I have been writing on Scamicide for more than five years about tech support scams and most of you are probably pretty familiar with how they commonly work. Generally, these scams begin with a pop-up warning on your computer or an unsolicited telephone call, email or text message purportedly from tech support for your computer or software company telling you that your computer has been infected and that you must call a toll free number to speak with someone to get assistance in fixing the problem. According to a report from Stony Brook University, 85% of these scams originate in India. Once the victim speaks with the scammer, the victim is told he or she has to pay a fee to have the problem fixed and that the victim must enable the scammer to get remote access to the computer in order to fix it. If you provide remote access to the scammer, you will end up having your personal information stolen that will be used to make you a victim of identity theft.
Now, some inventive scam artists are modifying the scam such that it begins with a phone call purporting to be from Microsoft, Apple or some other tech company, but this time you are told that they have discovered that you were fraudulently charged in a tech support scam and that they are going to send you a refund. Then the fun starts. In various incarnations of the scam, you are either told that you have to provide personal information to qualify for the payment or that you need to give the caller remote access to your computer and in a third variation on the scam which makes no sense whatsoever, you are told that you need to purchase pre-paid debit cards such as Green Dot cards and provide the numbers to the caller.
None of the tech companies, such as Microsoft will ever contact you by phone in regard to diagnosing software problems.  If someone contacts you by phone unsolicited by you indicating that they are from a company’s 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. Also, remember that even if your Caller ID indicates that the call is from Microsoft or some other tech company, you cannot trust your Caller ID because it can be manipulated by a scammer using a technique called “spoofing” to make the call appear to come from whomever the scammer wishes to make it appear. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.
Providing remote access to anyone to your computer can lead to a myriad of problems including identity theft and the downloading of ransomware.  Neither Apple nor Microsoft or any of the other tech companies ever provide notices of security problems that contain telephone numbers for you to call to fix the problem.  Whenever you get a pop-up, email, or text message that appears to tell you that you have a security problem with your computer, you should never click on any links contained in the message or call the telephone number provided. If your screen freezes, all you need to do is just turn off your computer and restart it. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing a real security problem you can contact tech support at the real tech companies directly by phone or by email using the phone number and email addresses you find on their respective websites. In fact, neither Microsoft, Apple or Google will provide you with a telephone number to call for service. Generally they will direct you to the tech support section of their websites. None of the tech companies will ever call you if there is a problem.
In regard to this latest tech support scam, never give personal information to anyone unless you have absolutely confirmed that it is legitimately needed and it makes no sense to wire money, or purchase pre-paid debit cards in order to receive a refund of any kind.
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