Tech support scams in which consumers are tricked by scammers into believing there is a problem with their computers that require the expensive services of scammers constitute a major problem. Tech support scams are increasingly common and victimize consumers 60 years or older about five times more often than people between the ages of 20 and 59 according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). According to the FBI, the problem is getting worse with almost 24,000 people victimized by this scam in 2021 which was a 137% increase over 2020.
The most common tech support scams start with popups on your computer that 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.
If you call the scammers in response to concerns about your security, they often ask for you to enable them to get remote access to your computer to assess the problem. Providing remote access to anyone to your computer can lead to a myriad of problems including identity theft and the downloading of ransomware. Neither AOL, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft or any of the other tech companies ever ask for remote access to your computer to fix problems.
Remembering my motto, that “things aren’t as bad as you think, they are far worse,” the names and contact information for people victimized by this type of scam are often shared with other scammers so, if you are a victim of this scam, you should expect to be targeted by many more scammers.
Often when your computer is frozen and you receive a pop-up ad purporting to tell you that you have a major security problem and warning you that you should not shut down or restart your computer because, they tell you, it would cause serious damage to your computer, the best thing you can do is shut down your computer and restart it.
If you are truly concerned about a security problem, contact tech support at the real tech companies you use at a phone number or email address that you have confirmed is accurate rather than a number or email address from the pop-up.
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