Every day, innocent people get conned into spending large amounts of money on nonexistent computer problems, adding to the growing number of victims in the widespread epidemic of tech support scams.
What are tech support scams?
Fake tech support scams come in many different forms, and they’re extremely prevalent. Scammers may call you, put panic-inducing pop-ups on your computer, or set up fake websites that look like legitimate tech support information. Often, the scammers tell you that your computer is infected and will attempt to access your computer, after which they try to convince you to pay for support services to fix some made-up problem (or even a problem they created when they accessed your computer).
What do scammers do with access to my device?
Once scammers have access, they may convince you that totally benign files are infected or problematic. Scammers may also install malware to steal your data or personal information, change your computer settings, or even disable your antivirus software so your computer is vulnerable to later attacks.
In the end, these scammers want to get your money, banking credentials, SSNs, and other sensitive information.
How to avoid becoming a victim
If you get an unexpected or urgent call from someone claiming to be with tech support, hang up. It’s not a real call. Legitimate companies do not make unsolicited tech support calls to customers. Additionally, don’t rely on caller ID. Criminals can fake the names and numbers that show up in the caller ID information to look like a legitimate company.
When using search engines like Google or Bing, be on the lookout for fake pages. Scammers pay for their ads to show up in the first few results on commonly used search engines. A search result might claim to be “Microsoft® Technical Support,” but when you look at the URL itself, you might notice it’s a completely unrelated scam website. Keep a close eye out for strange URLs, as well as mistakes on the website itself, such as spelling/grammar errors and other typos. Only visit websites you know and trust, and be careful where you enter your login credentials or personal data.
If you get a pop-up message that tells you to call tech support, ignore it. No matter how urgent the message seems, do not call a number or click on any links in the pop-up. If you need further assistance, call your antivirus company’s tech support line instead.
If you have been, or think you may have been, scammed.
If you think you have been scammed:
You should immediately update your antivirus software, scan your computer, and quarantine or remove any threats your software detects. Make sure your device’s firewall and pop-up blocker are turned on. This will help prevent intrusions and malicious pop-ups.
Change any passwords you shared with the supposed scammer, and be sure to do so on every account that uses the same login credentials you shared.
If you paid for support services with a credit or debit card, call your financial institution immediately to cancel the charges and have a card with a new number issued. Be sure to check your statements regularly for further fraudulent charges and have them canceled as well.
Report the scam and any information you have about the scammers to the authorities:
United States: File a complaint with the FTC.
Canada: Report the incident to the CAFC.
United Kingdom: Report the scam to Action Fraud.
Australia: Contact the ACCC.
5. Webroot customers: open a ticket to report any scam attempts to our Customer Support team.
6. For more information about tech support scams, the FTC and Better Business Bureau have issued helpful guidance found at the following links:
Additionally, the BBB has an up-to-date Scam Tracker to help consumers find information and report incidents with trending scams.
Webroot is also working to fight these scams by:
Tracking tech support fraud networks and websites and referring such sites to law enforcement officials as appropriate;
Educating our customers about how to stay safe online and how to spot scams;
Strengthening our security technology to better protect our customers from scamming activity;
Providing resources to help you keep yourself and your family safe.
In addition to reporting scams to the correct authorities, you can also help prevent these scams by spreading the word. Help others in your life understand how these criminals take advantage of unsuspecting victims by sharing information with your friends and family on how to spot scams and avoid risks.
Tech support blacklist
During the course of our research and work with customers who have fallen victim to tech support scams, we’ve put together a blacklist of companies which pretend to be Webroot and/or use misleading tactics to defraud customers or steal their personal information.
Phone Number Blacklist:
If you believe your company, URL, or phone number has been mistakenly blacklisted, contact us right away.