Seven Signs to Spot Phone Tech Scammers

Seven Signs to Spot Phone Tech Scammers“I’m from Microsoft and I’m calling to let you know we detected some security risks on your computer.”

Have you ever received a phone call that began with a line like that? Have you ever allowed a technician you didn’t know take control of your computer remotely?

Scammers are running rampant right now, calling as many people as they can, trying to deceive susceptible users into paying them for unnecessary services that actually harm the computer and put your private information at risk. Use these seven signs to spot phone tech scammers.

1. Anyone calling you out of the blue to tell you your computer has a problem, especially if they identify as Microsoft or another major brand (e.g. Dell, HP, Toshiba).
-No one from a major company is checking up on you or will call out of the blue; they don’t have time or resources for that.

2. Ask you to open up the command prompt on your computer to show you “errors.”
-What they will show you are normal functions of your computer that the average user doesn’t usually see, but they’re using it as a tactic to gain your trust that there’s a problem.

3. Want to take control of your computer remotely to run scans.
-This will give them access to your computer, during which time they may try to harvest private information

4. Scans result in identifying many (often thousands) of viruses or other malware in a few minutes.
-Scans usually take several hours to run, not a few minutes, so it’s not possible for them to find thousands of errors in minutes. These are predesigned screens.

5. Use catchwords like “deep clean,” “optimize,” and “security risk,” and want to install “support” software on the computer (which is actually malware).
-There are empty words that mean nothing, and any programs they put on are unnecessary at best and malicious at worst, bogging down the computer and potentially granting them future access to your machine.

6. Are very persistent and pressure you to act quickly, often becoming belligerent if you stall or refuse.
-No respectable company should pressure customers to make instant decisions or become rude and threatening if you decline.

7. Start out by offering free help, but eventually asking (or demanding) payment for current services or future computer care plans.
-Reputable companies should be up-front about their pricing policies. Paying them not only is a complete waste, since they did nothing to help you, but also gives them access to your credit card information. If you buy a continuing care plan, you may hear from the company again in the future, for more disservice and likely a push for other purchases.

We recommend that you hang up after tip one, but you may want to ask for the person’s name, the company name, their address, and phone number, if they’re even willing to provide it, so that you can research and confirm who and where they are. Should you stay on the line, you’ll hear several of the other seven signs that you’re talking with a phone scammer. If you won’t take our word for it, take a look at this article and video that shows you what happens if you play along with a Microsoft ‘tech support’ scam.

If you’ve already permitted a caller like this to remote into your machine and you’re experiencing problems, take the computer to a local repair shop to be checked for malware and for removal of any faux tech support software.

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