If you are even moderately accustomed to using computers, it is likely that you are able to point out suspicious scams on the internet. They are typically obvious and very suspicious for those who use computers often, but it is understandable when someone not accustomed to computers falls for one of these scams. Let’s look at an example:
The first thing that should be suspicious is the fact that most likely, the webpage will just really be an image. The text you see on screen is not actual HTML text, rather it is just an image created in Photoshop or other image manipulation software. A way to determine that you are just looking at an image is to try to highlight the text on the page. If you can’t and instead it just drags a miniature image around screen, then it is just essentially a popup. This is a huge indicator because that means that the little message that pops up saying exactly what is wrong with your system is not customized. Meaning it is just a default error message meant to deceive users into thinking something is wrong with their computer. The second blaring sign that a warning like this is not legitimate is that there will always be something saying that “there is something wrong with your system” or that “your computer has been compromised”. But, this is not possible. What is it using to determine that your system is compromised? Did it run its own antivirus on your computer? But how did that “antivirus” get on your system in the first place and wouldn’t that “antivirus” be a piece of malware because you didn’t even want it to be on your computer…? It just doesn’t make sense that this webpage is able to determine that there is something wrong with your computer.
So, if you ever get to a webpage like the one above, immediately leave the page. But, let’s say you do end up calling that number. It is likely you will be connected to a “certified Microsoft technician” who will be willing to fix your computer. They’ll ask you to go to a shady website and enter in some kind of code to make it seem like they are legit. Then, probably the biggest signal that you are getting scammed is the next step. You will then be asked to download software that will allow them to remotely access your operating system. After this point, they may speak a bunch of different tech lingo without making much sense and go into your Task Manager and point to a bunch of different harmless processes and say they are damaging your system. Then, they will open up a notepad and say all of the different kinds of things they might fix like, “network errors”, “registry problems”, “or security breaches”. Finally, they will show you all of their different security packages that you may purchase. Then, it that same notepad, they will have you enter your card information. After that point, you’re screwed. If you somehow got to this point where you are freaking out, immediately notify your provider and try to get the card cancelled.
There are many variations of tech support scams, but most of them simply try to get your credit card number of banking information in the end. So even if you are not tech savvy and manage to fall for every single step in the scammer’s process, if you ever get to the point where personal information is asked for, you should absolutely stop speaking with the person immediately, and remove their access from your computer.
On a lighter note, if you want to see some tech scammers getting shammed themselves, go over to Lewis’s Tech Channel on YouTube. There are some hilarious videos of him wasting some scammers’ time.