Watch Out for Tech Support Scams

Got a computer? PC, Mac or otherwise, you need to stay on-guard to computer tech scams.

Let’s say you get an urgent call from a tech support company. They tell you your computer has a problem that they can fix if you give them remote access to your machine. Should you let them do their thing to avoid a severe technical problem?

Or maybe this tech support company calls and says they’ve detected a virus on your machine. For a low fee – perhaps a gift card from iTunes or Amazon – a technician can clean your PC. Would you pay them to send those viruses packing?

The answer, of course, is NO to both questions above.

Here’s the thing: your computer is most likely fine. Geek Squad, Microsoft Tech Support, and Apple Geniuses don’t get an alert when something goes wrong on your computer. If you have a problem, you need to report it to tech support – not vice versa. Tech support scammers cast a wide net, calling every number they can find, hoping to get a bite. These scammers claim to be with legitimate companies, then try to scare unknowing consumers into thinking their PC is broken or infected.

There are two ways the scammers can get your cash in these calls. The first is just by asking; they’ll request a wire transfer or gift cards for services rendered. The second is quite a bit more dangerous: they’ll demand remote control of your computer so they can “fix” the problem for you. It sounds like high-tech customer service, but in reality, the scammer can install malicious software on your computer, which makes it easier for them to steal your personal information. Logins, passwords, credit card numbers, even sensitive information would all be at risk.

When in doubt, hang up and call the verified number of the business the scammer claimed to be. No legitimate company will ever ask you to pay with a gift card – if they do, report it to the FTC.

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