Heads up: There's a new tech support scam on the rise, and it's a scarily realistic one. Thousands of Americans have already been exposed to the scam, which usually appears as a pop-up ad that very closely resembles a warning about a computer virus. Now, experts are warning us not to fall for it.
According to a recent national study by Better Business Bureaus (BBB) in several states, scammers are using this phony alert to attempt to steal personal and financial information from users and to insert harmful malware into innocent people's computers. Sometimes, these scam artists might even try to steal a victim's identity down the line. Unfortunately, lots of people have already fallen for the scam in question — and they may not even realize it.
Even the most tech-savvy millennials have been duped by the scam, which is carefully crafted to fool users into thinking something is terribly wrong with their computers, when in reality, their devices are just fine. When they think something's wrong, though, they may send over money to the scammers who claim they can "fix" or "solve" the issues that weren't there in the first place.
"Now they’ve got these bad guys roaming around in their computers," said James Hegarty, president and CEO of the BBB’s regional office in Omaha, Nebraska. "It’s a nasty situation."
How to Avoid Tech Support Fraud
Thankfully, the BBB released steps to take to avoid getting duped by fake tech support experts, and you'll want to take notes from them:
Do not purchase any software or services from an unsolicited call, email, bogus website, or online ad. Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer.
Do not be fooled if a phony tech support scammer knows your name, address, or even some facts about how your computer operates. Cybercriminals trade information about customers and often claim to have specific information about your computer that is very generic.
Do not rely solely on monthly statements from your bank or credit card companies; check account activity online or by phone at least weekly for quick indicators of fraud. If you have been defrauded, contact your bank or credit card company.
Do NOT contact the fraudulent company or respond to a fraudster claiming to need your financial info.
Stay safe on the web!
h/t ABC News