Scammers posing as tech support want you to believe that your computer is infected with a virus. They show that we have some serious problems with our system. Scammers want you to pay for technical support services you don’t need to fix a fake issue. They typically request that you wire money, load money into a gift card, prepaid card, or cash reload card, use cryptocurrency, or utilize a money transfer app. Since they are aware that those means of payment might be difficult to reverse. When it comes to protecting yourself from online scam, education is your best line of defense. The following is a list of everything you need to know to stay safe.
The common online fraud schemes
Do you think you could never fall victim to one of the most common online frauds? Think again. It’s far too easy to get caught up; in the excitement of a great vacation deal or the anxiety associated with owing taxes to the IRS. Scammers are becoming more prevalent, and they are capable of making some compelling claims. The FTC received more than 2.8 million fraud reports in 2021. This led to losses of more than $5.8 billion, a remarkable increase of 70% over 2020.
To put it gently, it represents considerable growth. And the way our world has evolved has made scammers an excellent breeding ground. Experts identified it as one of the main causes. Since millions of people were dependent on “card not present” credit card purchases on retailers’ websites as a result of the epidemic. At the moment, this represents 80% of credit card theft incidents and is the main method.
People also felt lonely as a result of the pandemic. It encouraged them to interact online—for better or ill. Scammers may easily find and contact potential victims through social media. They can then “social engineer” them into paying money, disclosing personal information, or clicking on risky links. More than one-fourth of fraud victims in 2021 claimed that the fraud started on social media.
Then, what could you do to protect yourself? When people are unprepared, they become the victims of online scams. If you are aware of these common scam techniques, you’ll doubt them before clicking. We’ll also assist you in enhancing your password security, smartphone security, privacy, and general internet security. It is to ensure you have a solid defense against potential hacks, attacks, and computer viruses. The following details can keep you safe and prevent you from ending up as a statistic.
Form-jacking and fake online stores
Many fake websites promote “great prices” on well-known products. The URLs of these websites frequently resemble the brands they are copying, such as “Amaz0n.net.” If you buy something from one of these websites; there’s a good chance you’ll get a fake item in the mail—or nothing at all.
Formjacking is yet another type of retail fraud. Customers are forced to a fraudulent payment page (where the scam artist steals their personal and credit card information); when a reputable retailer’s website is compromised. To prevent falling for this scam, ensure the URL on the payment page relates to the website; where you were making the purchase. The URL could very slightly be changed by cybercriminals—possibly by adding or subtracting a single letter. Be sure to thoroughly verify the URL before entering your payment information.
A false trial offers
How it works: You come across an online advertisement offering a free one-month trial of a great product. Usually a program for weight reduction, a teeth-whitening product, or another that promises amazing results rapidly. Only $5.95 is required for shipping and handling, is that correct?
What is taking place?
The fine print, often in a color that blends into the backdrop; hides clauses that commit you to pay fees of $79 to $99 each month for the rest of your life. It could take months and be challenging to cancel these services.
The big picture: The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and FTC (Federal Trade Commission) have received advice from an internet fraud expert who claimed, “These people are cunning. They are aware that the majority of individuals scan the small print before clicking “I agree.” And that even those who do so simply check for the numbers. To avoid confusion, the businesses lay out the numbers without using dollar signs. Everything in the story has to do with money or deadlines.
Fraudulent Wi-Fi hotspots
How it works: While sitting in an airport or coffee shop, you log on to the public Wi-Fi. The service may be complimentary or a rip-off of a premium offering like Boingo Wireless. When you connect, everything seems to be in working condition.
What is taking place?
Despite having a reputable appearance, the website is just a criminal’s laptop-based online scam. He’s probably sitting right next to you while he checks your computer for banking, credit card, and other login information; while you’re not even aware of it. If the website is a fake pay site; he will also collect your credit card information and sell it to further thieves.
The big picture: Fake Wi-Fi hot spots are proliferating everywhere, and it can be difficult to tell them apart. Brian Yoder, a cybersecurity specialist, claims that it is both profitable and easy to carry out. Criminals copy the webpage of a Wi-Fi provider like Verizon or AT&T. After that, they change it to transfer your information to their laptop.
Tech Support Scams
You receive a call, email, or pop-up notice informing you that your computer has been compromised by this scam (ask yourself how they would know). Next, the scam artist:
- Installs an application on your computer that they want so they can remotely control it;
- Tries to deceive you into thinking anything is wrong by tricking you into downloading a real virus;
- Offers that they can fix the problem for a fee.
Using search engine results is another way to contact you: Tech support scammers spend a lot of time and effort getting their websites; to show up in online search results or making their ads.
Frequently, these scam artists demand money by bank wire, gift card, or fund transfer app. If you gave a scammer remote access to your computer; immediately update your security program, run a thorough scan, and delete anything it turns up. If you shared your login and password, change them as soon as you can.
Two things you need to be aware of to avoid tech support scams
- Genuine tech service providers won’t phone, email, or text you to let you know that your machine has a problem.
- In security pop-up alerts, genuine IT organizations will never ask you to call a number or click a link.
Bogus contest scam
How it works: On social media, you receive a direct message or a comment announcing a contest. They offer this with a free iPad, a vacation to Hawaii, or some other expensive reward. The message directs the user to “just click on the link to learn more.” The con artist will claim that to receive your gifts, you must pay a little sum. They refer to them as “taxes,” “shipping and handling costs,” or “processing fees.”
What is taking place?
This online scam mostly targets Twitter users. Although it can also be used on any social media or network site, as well as by email or text message. The speaker will then ask for your email; so, they can send you a link to claim your reward when that time comes. Sometimes, this happens when on the phone. The link not only collects your payment for the “prize.” But it also downloads a “bot” that will allow the hacker to use your account. They will send spam emails and steal your credit card information.
The big picture: URL-shortening services are used by scammers to create URLs that, in some way, resemble genuine ones. Because visitors can’t see the complete URL, bad hackers can easily upload harmful links. As soon as you click the link, your computer is exposed to viruses or phishing assaults.
They gain from your desire to acquire wealth as well. Even though it may be tempting to imagine winning a contest and having the money transform your life; you should never transfer money, mail cash, or pay with gift cards or cryptocurrency to claim your reward. These payments are used by scammers because it’s hard to tell who received the money. And it’s almost tough to get your money back.
Congratulations! You won a lot of money in the lottery or some other way! You have not, however. This bogus email claims that you have won big. And that all you need to do is send a processing fee or get in touch with someone; who can handle your gains. It underlines that you have won big. Typically, it claims to be from a global lottery.
If you haven’t participated in an actual lottery, you probably haven’t won the grand prize. When you win the lottery, the shop contacts you rather than the other way around.
How it works: An email or social media direct message contains a picture of a starving orphan from a developing nation. The charity’s request for donations is followed by the phrase “Please give what you can immediately.” To speed up rescue operations; the email advises sending wire money through Western Union along with specific personal information like your home address, Social Security number, and checking account information. It is aimed at children!
What is taking place?
The charity is a scam designed to take your money and financial information. The money you donated goes entirely to the con artist; none of it is used to help those in need. Even worse, the scam artist now has access to all of your personal information. If you don’t take action fast, they’ll drain your bank accounts, rack up credit card debt, and perhaps commit identity theft.
The broad view: To attract their victims, hackers construct phony social media accounts for charities, businesses, and personal use. They might employ cyber stalking techniques, phony offers and deals, business spoofing, or account hijacking to propagate malicious links. Because people are less watchful while sending messages via Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn; than they are when sending them via email, phishing assaults are quite prevalent on these networks. Additionally, the platforms don’t filter spam or keep an eye out for harmful links.
How it works: You meet someone while utilizing Facebook, a chat room, a dating service, or a virtual game. You call each other, have a phone conversation, and quickly get sexually acquainted. It doesn’t take long to realize you were meant to be together. But the love of your life is overseas. It needs money to get away from a cruel father, get medical care, or buy a ticket. So you may be together at last.
What is taking place?
Your new business partner is a fraud. There won’t be a heartfelt embrace or a happily ever after at the airport. You’ll lose your cash and possibly even your faith in other people. Even though it could be challenging to admit to yourself, you were a victim of love fraud.
The broad view: Due to the growth of online social networking; heartless con artists specialize in manipulating lonely people into fake friendships and romantic relationships. It is to steal their money and have access to daring new channels. Compared to investment fraud and business email compromise (BEC) schemes, only these online scams stole more money.
How it works: You see a social media post or get an email marketing a great flight deal. Or even an all-inclusive vacation to an interesting place like Paris or Fiji. This is a $10,000 vacation that can be had for just $999, which is amazing. Why wouldn’t you object?
What is taking place?
Similar to the “free trial” fraud, hidden costs are a common component of travel fraud. If this is the case, the down payment will only cover a small percentage of the resort expenses. It might be thousands of dollars. Alternatively, the confirmation code might never arrive in your mailbox.
The big picture: The summer, when individuals are planning vacations, is when these internet scams are most common. But they are also prominent around Christmas and New Year’s. Scammers use strange, difficult-to-reach locations on purpose. So that it would be difficult to get to them without their “amazing offer.” Finally, to arouse your attention through a sense of urgency, they attach a deadline; suggesting that you only have a few days or possibly hours left to take advantage of the offer.
Google Voice scam
How it works: After seeing your listing for sale on Facebook Marketplace or eBay; someone contacts you and indicates interest in buying the item. To verify your identity, they must first use a two-factor authentication (2FA) code. They will explain that due to the scams and fake web listings, they have learned about, safeguards must be taken.
What is taking place?
A 2FA code that was truly from Google was sent to you through SMS. Once you provide the con artist with your code, they will be able to create an account in your name. “A new Google Voice number that the attackers claim to be yours is connected to your actual phone number.” Scammers can then use Google Voice to make spam calls and send spam messages in your name; sometimes without your knowledge.
The big picture: The appearance of spam calls has evolved. The number, which was mostly ignored, used to show up as unavailable or an 800 number. People now assume the numbers are real. Since they appear to be from your local area code, and occasionally even your home city. In the Google Voice scam, the con artist uses your identity to conceal your own to contact people and defraud them. Through the URL they send, the fraudster may also be able to obtain more information. And if they do, they can open accounts in your name.
How to Spot and Avoid Technical Support Scams?
Tech support scammers use a variety of tactics to trick clients. By being aware of these methods, you can prevent becoming a victim of scams.
- Phone calls
Tech support con artists frequently call and pretend to be computer experts from a respected company. They say they’ve found a problem with your machine. Before asking for remote access to your computer, they frequently seem to run a diagnostic test. After that, they try to bill you for addressing a fake issue. Listen to an FTC agent speaking with a tech support scammer undercover.
If someone phones you out of the blue and says your computer is having an issue, hang up.
A pop-up window on your computer screen could be an attempt by con artists posing as technical support to defraud you. It can look like an error screen from your operating system or antivirus software. And it even features logos from trustworthy companies or websites. The window’s content informs you that your machine has a security issue. And then instructs you to call a mobile number for support.
If you come across this kind of pop-up window on your computer, don’t dial the number. You will never be told to phone a specific number in a real security alert or warning.
Ads and listings on search result pages
Scammers advertise their websites as offering tech support workers to have them show up in online searches for that service. Or they could make their online advertisements. You calling the number and requesting help is what the con artists are banking on.
Visit a company you are comfortable and familiar with if you require tech support.
What to Do if You Think Your Computer Is Having Issues?
If you think there might be an issue, update your computer’s security software and run a scan.
If you require help resolving a situation, turn to someone you know and trust. Many software providers offer telephone or online support. Retailers of computer hardware also offer on-site technical support.
How to React After Being Scammed
You might be able to undo a transaction you made with a tech support fraudster; using your credit card or debit card. Contact your bank or credit card company right away. Inform them of what happened and ask them to withdraw the charges. If you paid a tech support scammer with a gift card, immediately get in touch with the company that supplied it. Tell them you paid a fraudster with the gift card, and ask for your money back.
If you grant a remote hacker access to your computer, update the security software on it. After that, perform a scan and eliminate everything it identifies as harmful. If you unintentionally provide your username and password to a tech support scammer, change them right immediately. If you use the same password across multiple websites and accounts, you should also change it. For a new account, create a secure password.
If somebody requests your bank or personal information; it is reasonable to assume that you are the victim of fraud. Never provide personal details to anyone you speak with online in a direct message. Use a secure server and a reputable website anytime you need to do an online financial transaction.
Change all of your passwords immediately. Uninstall any potentially harmful software you might have downloaded. And if necessary, get in touch with your credit card company if you suspect fraud. Contact your local police enforcement agency to report the scam and receive help with the next steps. You can also report the fraud to the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and your state attorney.