You’re browsing the web when a window pops up: Warning! Your computer may be infected!
Or the phone rings, telling you there’s a problem with your computer and you need to take care of it right away. What do you do?
The good news is, there’s no need for alarm. You don’t have to be a computer expert to recognize a tech support scam when you see one.
How can you tell it’s a scam?
First, reputable tech support companies will never make unsolicited phone calls to you or scan your computer without your permission. If you get one of these calls, hang up. Don’t let them talk you into anything, especially sharing passwords or financial information.
Second, if your antivirus software really has detected a problem, it will never prompt you to call a phone number to get help.
While popup windows might imitate your computer’s operating system and warn of danger if you try to close the window or shut down the computer, don’t fall for it. Get rid of the popup by shutting down your browser or doing a hard restart of your computer if necessary. Whatever you do, don’t click it. Doing so could download malware which could compromise your computer.
If there is a problem with your computer, you’ll need to find a reputable repair company. However, a simple web search is not your best option, as many scammers have created online businesses and even created ads to lure people in. Ask a friend for recommendations, read reviews, or search locally, as many stores that sell computer equipment often offer technical support.
By knowing the signs, you can protect yourself from tech support scams. And if you’re ever contacted by a scammer, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. The FTC uses this information to track down scammers and put them out of business for good.