Imagine you are browsing the internet, checking all your statuses, tweeting your heart away when all of a sudden, several popups take over your screen. The popups may say that your computer has thousands of viruses and you need to call Microsoft immediately to protect your computer. Sometimes your computer may even start beeping or will start yelling ‘Warning your computer is infected’ with a creepy robot voice.

Are you Infected?

No, you are not infected. Let me say that again, you are NOT infected. There is nothing wrong with your computer. You were just hit with a tech support scam. The scams usually start in the browser window or as a phone call. Over the phone they will usually say they are with a company’s tech support and they detected serious issues with your PC.

Browser based scams have grown in popularity, where they try to visually imitate real error codes on screen. They will throw in logos to help build their credibility. The scammers will also say that hanging up or closing out your browser could result in irreparable damage to your machine. There will conveniently be a technician ready to help you.

What Do the Scammers Do?

The ‘technician’ will have you bring up things like Command Prompt or Event Viewer and using those results as evidence to the issues. Most users are unaware or unfamiliar to these features, and they will take advantage of that.

Command Prompt

Event Viewer will retain every system message that pop ups.  A PC that is functioning normally will have errors in Event Viewer. Things like a program crash or network issue will show up as and ‘error’. The scammer will tell the user that these errors will jeopardize their data. They will then instruct the user to install remote software to ‘fix the problem’. Right around this time they will demand that you pay them and try to sell you on a protection plan.

Event Viewer

Scammers who are just after your credit card information will move around in your computer, even clear some logs to show that they have done something. Others, with real bad intentions, can use their access to install malware on your computer. Some will delete the system files and data if the victim refuses to pay. 

Things To Remember…

Microsoft, Google, Apple or any other tech company will not cold call you or email about your device. If you get a real error message while using your computer, it will never contain a phone number to call and will fill up your entire screen, not just your browser window. Also check to see if there are spelling errors and grammatical errors in the message.  All these symptoms point to a scam. 

Users who have a form of Anti-Virus may think they are safe from these attacks. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Some A/V will intercept the attacks on the browser, but most will not. Once you’re on the phone with scammer and grant them remote access, there is nothing your A/V can do. It is like turning off your security system in your home and unlocking the door. The burglar can just walk in.

Most people think that it is only the older demographic who falls for these scams, but we see people of all ages fall victim. Young people are actually more likely to fall into one of these scams because they are on the computer more. 

For more information about tech scams or even screenshots of the popups that may be displayed, click on the link below:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4013405/windows-protect-from-tech-support-scams

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