Tech Support Scams

Tech Support Scams are scams claiming to be technical support services offering to clean out your computer. These attacks can have a serious financial impact on the user and can appear on any webpage, on Windows or Mac OS. As with most forms of digital attack, the best defense against these is being aware of them.

Initial Contact

These scams will “contact” you through:

  • Cold calls: People calling over the phone claiming that your computer has been infected. This should raise an immediate red flag as neither Microsoft nor Apple will ever call you in this┬ádirect manner, nor would they even know about the present state of your computer to begin with! These are easier to detect as we are used to people calling for surveys or scams. In addition the call centers are often located in foreign countries and will frequently sound unprofessional.
  • Pop-ups: internet pop-ups inciting the user to call a fake tech-support number or install software from the internet. These phone numbers should NEVER be called. If you are in doubt, go straight to the Microsoft or Apple website to find their actual support number to ask if the pop-up is legitimate. Likewise, you should NEVER install any software suggested by such a pop-up.

In either case these scams should be ignored as their claims are almost certainly false. If you are in doubt you can contact us here at the Helpdesk or check out our Malware removal page.

Please note: some pop-ups won’t allow you to simply close the window. In such cases you should be able to close them through the Windows Task Manager, or Activity Monitor if you’re using an Apple.

You can read more about these pop-up scams: here

Accessing Your Computer

The scammers use scare techniques to gain access to users’ computers. Common tactics include:

  • Claiming that your computer has been infected with malware.
  • Claiming that your personal information (credit cards, passwords, confidential documents…) are vulnerable to being exposed.
  • Using words like “Urgent”, “Immediately” or “Fast” to pressure the user to act now.
  • The scammers will try to portray themselves as being legitimate. They will claim to be affiliated with either Microsoft, Apple, or some other software company. They can even go as far as suggesting you go to an actual Apple or PC repair store in order to gain your trust.

The scammer will most often get the user to install remote access software and then have the user provide them with login information. Once they’ve gained access to the system, a scammer will then display false evidence of malware or virus infections to the user to further cement their trust. The scammers will then proceed to “clean” the computer, using either legitimate or illegitimate software, and then disable important security features to allow for further attacks. Some will even go so far as to add insult to injury by then billing the unsuspecting user for the “service”.

We would encourage you to read the following link which is a recording of a full conversation with such a scammer: here