How to Avoid Phone Scams from “Tech Support”

Tech support scams are a million-dollar industry that have been around for the past decade. There are a variety of scams out there, the most popular being: email, pop-up and phone. Their goal is always greed. Through their deception, scammers gain access to your financial information or convince you to spend hundreds of dollars to “fix” your computer.

How the Scam Works

Using a phone directory, scammers randomly call innocent people pretending to be from tech support informing them of an urgent problem. Scammers have even said they were calling on behalf of PC Solutions; this just proves that no one is safe from the scam, consumers or company. Next, the caller tells the victims to get on their computers to open some files. This is where the scammers confirm the non-existent problem.

Now that they have located your computer’s so-called problem, they will most likely do one of the following:

  • Get you to install software that provides them with your sensitive data, like online banking information, usernames and passwords.
  • Ask for your credit card information so they can bill you for their services.
  • Try to sign you up for a phony computer maintenance and warranty program.
  • Ask for remote access to your computer, so they can resolve the issue.
  • Guide you to a specific website, which requires you to input your credit card and personal information.
  • Try to sell you software, that is available for free online.

Avoid Being Scammed with These Three Tips

  1. If you get an unexpected call from “tech support,” hang up.
    • Legitimate computer companies would never call you out of the blue, and neither will PC Solutions.
  2. Never share passwords or allow remote access to your computer to someone who contacts you over the phone.
    • The only reason tech support would be calling you is if you have already been in recent contact with them to resolve a problem. Something important to note is that you should always be the first one to initiate contact. Tech support companies are not performing audits on random computers, then calling the owners to inform them of a problem.
  3. Don’t believe the caller ID.
    • Scammers are sophisticated. Just because the caller ID says “Microsoft” or “PC Solutions,” this does not mean they are really calling on behalf of the company listed on the caller ID. Scammers have developed ways to manipulate caller ID to display whatever they would like.

If You Think You May Have Been Scammed

  1. Contact your bank and cancel credit cards.
  2. Uninstall any software the scammer had you download.
  3. Contact an actual computer specialist to run a sweep of your computer.
  4. Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission.
    • If you receive a call from a scammer, record the following information:
      • Date the company first contacted you
      • Company name
      • Company representative first name
      • Company representative last name
      • Company representative title/position
      • A detailed account of the conversation between you and the scammer