3 signs of a tech support scam & how to protect yourself

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There’s been an increase in people reporting tech support scams for an assortment of electronic devices. Federal authorities say scammers pretending to be associated with such tech companies as Google, Apple and Microsoft have been siphoning millions of dollars from unsuspecting victims.

The Justice Department recently announced the sentencing of 24 defendants who ran what the agency described as “the first-ever large scale, multi-jurisdiction prosecution targeting the India call center scam industry.”

Underscoring how rampant the plots are, the Federal Trade Commission also recently warned consumers about tech support schemes and how some fraudsters send pop-up messages to your screen to get you to think you’re having computer issues.

Many of them will offer free “security” scans, or even go to the extent of setting up bogus websites “to convince you that your computer is infected,” the FTC says on its website.

To guard yourselves from these malicious people, you need to be aware of the many ways these crooks try to get you to depart from your money:

Here are 3 tell-tale signs of a tech support scam

  • If they ask you for remote access or your password: This is how they can actually modify your computer settings to make it more vulnerable to an attack. This method can be legit, but if you don’t know who’s on the other end of the line, don’t give them your personal info!
  • If they try to sell you a maintenance plan: Scammers will hawk meaningless warranties and maintenance plans to you. Don’t fall for it. Many security programs are free or come pre-loaded.
  • If they ask for your credit card info over the phone: Not only will they attempt to bill you for fraudulent services, but they may actually clean you out if you hand over your payment information.

Here’s what to do if a scammer calls your phone

  • Hang up: It’s no longer true that we can rely on caller ID. Many criminals know how to mask their calls with local numbers now. If you get an unexpected call from someone you don’t know or recognize, hang up.
  • Get a pop-up? Ignore it: The FTC says, “There are legitimate pop-ups from your security software to do things like update your operating system. But do not call a number that pops up on your screen in a warning about a computer problem.”
  • Call your security software company directly: Don’t rely on a middle man when you can go straight to the source for any of concerns about computer network security.

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