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  • Geebo 8:09 am on June 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , tech support scam   

    The real-world effects of the tech support scam 

    The real-world effects of the tech support scam

    The tech support scam can take many forms. One of the more common versions of the scam is when your device will show a warning similar to the one above. It will say that your device has been infected by a virus and you’ll be directed to a phone number to call to have the virus removed. Another common version of the scam is when the scammers call random people up posing as a big tech company like Microsoft, Google, or Facebook and will tell the person they call that their computer has been infected with a virus.

    Both scams will have you grant remote access to your computer or device to remove the virus. In reality, your device does not have a virus and the scammers will not only charge you for a phony virus solution but they could also plant any type of malware on your device.

    This unfortunately happened recently to a man in Wisconsin. The scammers posed as a well-known virus protection company, called told the man he had a virus on his computer. The scammers requested remote access to his computer and $900 in gift cards to ‘fix’ the problem.

    The man made the payment but after doing so he noticed that his bank account had an additional $300 taken out of it. This was done through malware that the scammers had left on his computer while they had remote access.

    If you’re a frequent reader of our blog, you’ll know that anyone asking for payment in gift cards is a giant red flag indicating a scam. No legitimate company or agency will ask for remote payments through gift cards. Due to the fact the cards are virtually untraceable once their serial numbers are given out, they’ve become the de facto currency for scammers. Secondly, no company will ever call or contact you to tell you that you have a virus on your device or computer.

    If you receive one of these calls, you should hang up immediately. If you see a pop up like the one pictured above, close the window and run a malware scan on your device. For Windows PCs and laptops we recommend either using the Windows Security Scan built into Windows 10 or using a commercial malware detection tool like Malwarebytes. There is a free version of Malwarebytes that is available for download.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on March 17, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , tech support scam,   

    Tech support scams could be on the rise 

    Tech support scams could be on the rise

    Yesterday, when we discussed phishing scams that could affect people working at home for the first time, we were remiss not to mention another scam that could be targeting new remote workers. The scam we’re referring to now is the tech support scam. This scam has been a known nuisance to home computer users for years now. This scam has also ended up costing its victims thousands of dollars apiece.

    The tech support scam usually works in one of two ways. The first and most ubiquitous way is when the victim sees a pop-up on their device that tells them their device has been infected with some kind of virus or malware. The pop-up then instructs the victim to call a number that claims to be some form of official tech support for that device. Other tech support scammers will just cold call people posing as a company like Microsoft or Apple telling their victims that they have a computer virus.

    In some cases, the tech support scammers will ask for remote access to your computer. With that access, they can do a number of malicious things. For example, a man in New York State was locked out of his computer by the scammers and was told to overnight cash while thinking he was paying to have his computer repaired remotely. In other cases, the scammers could inject malware into your system that logs your usernames and passwords. And in even more cases, scammers will just rummage through your computer looking for any information that they could find valuable.

    As far as the pop-ups go that say you have a virus, you should always ignore them and close the window where they appear. You should only be concerned by warnings that are given to you by whatever antivirus protection you already have installed on your device. As far as phone calls go, companies like Microsoft, Apple or Google will never call you to notify you that you have a virus. While these companies do have a global reach, they’re not monitoring your computer for viruses. If you receive one of these phone calls, just hang up. Don’t even engage with these scammers as your number could be shared with other scammers if they know someone will answer.

    Anytime some stranger is asking you online for money to fix your ‘virus’ problem, it’s more than likely a scam.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on February 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: impostor scam, , seniors, tech support scam,   

    Help protect seniors from scams 

    Help protect seniors from scams

    Today, we’re focusing on a number of scams that have targeted seniors recently.

    The first is what’s known as the tech support scam. In these cases, scammers will pose as tech companies telling seniors that they have viruses on their computers. Usually, the scammers will ask for remote access to your computer. They’ll then install malware on the computer and ask for your financial information as their payment. In a recent case in Florida, two suspects were allegedly pulling this scam and having their victims send thousands of dollars to the scammers under the guise of getting rid of a virus on the victim’s computer. They were able to scam $81,000 out of several seniors from across the country before they were caught. If anyone calls you to tell you that you have a virus, it’s always a scam.

    Not all scams against seniors are done over the phone or online. Many scammers are still posing as utility workers. Recently, in San Antonio, Texas a man posed as an AT&T employee. The man went to a senior woman’s home and offered her a deal for TV, internet, and cell service. The woman wrote out a check before finding out that the man did not work for AT&T. The man in question was even wearing an AT&T employee’s shirt. If you ever have any doubts about a utility worker approaching your home always ask to see their worker’s ID. If you’re still unsatisfied you can also call the company’s local office to verify their identity.

    Lastly, both the Federal Trade Commission and the AARP say that the most common scam perpetrated against seniors is the impostor scam. This is when scammers pose as a government agency such as the IRS or Social Security. The scammers will call you on the phone and try to pressure you into making some kind of payment over the phone, often through unusual means like gift cards or wiring the money. Both the FTC and the AARP are expecting scammers to take advantage of the 2020 census as well which we discussed here. If you did owe a government agency money or there was an issue with your Social Security benefits you would receive a letter and not a phone call.

    While you may not be vulnerable to these scams if you know someone who might be please share this post with them.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , tech support scam,   

    Your Microsoft license is not expiring 

    Your Microsoft license is not expiring

    Last week, we discussed how Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system was no longer going to be supported with security updates. While not upgrading would leave your computer vulnerable to attacks ultimately, it’s not the end of the world. Unless you didn’t back up your files. Not surprisingly, scammers are using such an innocuous opportunity to try to trick you into paying them for services that don’t exist, giving up control of your computer, or giving them personal or financial information. They’re also doing this by disguising themselves as Microsoft employees to try to gain your trust.

    This scam is a variation of the tech support scam but they’re using the concern about Windows 7 no longer being supported to scare you into believing whatever they have to say. Scammers will call people at random posing as Microsoft employees telling them that their Microsoft license is about to expire. They’ll offer several solutions on how to fix this non-existent problem. They’ll either ask you to pay them to ‘renew’ the license or they’ll ask you for remote access of your computer. The remote access will give them entry into your computer that will allow them to either go through your personal files or possibly install ransomware or malware.

    Once you purchase a computer that comes with Windows or have purchased a copy of Windows from either Microsoft or an authorized vendor, you’ve already paid for the license. There is no annual license renewal or any additional fees like that. That’s not even taking into account that Microsoft never calls any of its users. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook or any other large company to tell you that something is wrong with your device, hang up. They are never who they say they are and do not have your best interest in mind.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on January 13, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , tech support scam   

    Scams that use the Amazon name 

    Scams that use the Amazon name

    Over the weekend, a number of reports came out independent from each other that detailed separate scams that are using Amazon’s name and logo to fool victims into handing over personal or financial information.

    In the first scam, scammers are sending out emails with the official Amazon logo attached to them. The email thanks you for purchasing an Amazon e-gift card. The email then says that if you didn’t purchase the e-gift card to click a link to cancel the purchase or receive a refund. This is a phishing attack that will lead you to a website that is not Amazon where the scammers will try to get you to input personal or financial information in order to get your ‘refund’. In one instance, a victim was asked to buy Amazon gift cards from a local retailer to fix the problem. If you ever receive an email like this you should never click on any links. Instead, go straight to the retailer’s website to check your account.

    The second scam was reported as happening in the Pacific Northwest. In it, the scammers are sending consumers letters stating that their Amazon purchase didn’t go through. What’s troubling about this scam is that the scammers have gained access to information that allows them to know what you purchased from Amazon and how much you paid for it. The letter instructs you to go to a website in order to but again, asks you to input personal and financial information. It’s unknown how scammers have gotten the purchase information so if you receive one of these letters, it’s recommended that you change the password to your Amazon account.

    In the last scam, if you’re thinking about signing up for Amazon Prime or you have a technical issue with Prime, be careful of what links you click on after a web search. In some cases, if you do a web search for ‘Amazon Prime’ or ‘Amazon Prime customer support’ you may be presented with ads that take you to third-party sites that are definitely nor Amazon. In other cases, these ads will list a phony customer service number for Amazon Prime. Security researchers have stated that these ads will take you to sites that will try to get you to pay for services that would be free if performed by amazon. This is also known as the tech support scam. Again, if you have customer service needs that Amazon needs to address, go to Amazon.com in order to find the correct information.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on December 30, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , tech support scam   

    Ok Google (or Alexa), download some malware 

    Ok Google (or Alexa), download some malware

    The Better Business Bureau is warning about a scam that inevitably increases this time of year. If you received a new device like a Google Home or Amazon Echo for the holidays, you may want to be careful about how you activate the device. A number of scams are designed around these devices that can either cost you money or hijack your device. If you’re having trouble with the initial setup of the device, be careful how you proceed when it comes to contacting customer service. Some tech support avenues could lead you to have a device of disappointment.

    When activating your new device, you want to try to avoid phony customer service numbers. Many times, the first number you see on a web search for customer service may not be the official one. Instead, you could be talking with some unauthorized third-party service that may try to charge you for activating your device. Most devices should be activated for free once the purchase price for the device has been paid. Or, these scammers could be trying to get you to install malware on your new device that could lead to an invasion of your privacy.

    It doesn’t take much for a scammer to set themselves up on a web search page by purchasing a sponsored link. This could easily list them above the legitimate company on search results. The BBB recommends keeping a lookout for things like if the web address is misspelled or the website itself uses poor grammar. These are likely indicators that the information they’re providing you is false. You should also avoid apps that claim to be activation apps for your new device as these have also been used in the past to try to obtain personal information.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , tech support scam   

    Getting scammed after being scammed 

    Getting scammed after being scammed

    If you’ve ever been scammed you may have reported the scam to your local police, the Better Business Bureau, or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). While you should report scams to the FTC, if you have, you may want to be on the lookout for a scam that comes from reporting the scam. According to reports, people who report scams to the FTC are sometimes targeted by a new set of scammers. These scammers claim to be a company that can help you get your money back from the original scammers. While a service like this sounds great, sadly, it’s just another scam.

    Residents of the Denver area have been reporting they’ve been getting calls from people posing as the Denver Police Department. The scammers will tell their victims that they’ve been the victim of identity theft then ask for their banking information. Once the information was given the scammers would just hang up. If police discover that you’ve been an actual victim of identity theft, they will send an officer to your home rather than call you. And as always, you should never give your financial information over the phone to any stranger, even if they claim to be the police.

    In Greenville, South Carolina, authorities there have warned elderly residents to be aware of various scams that have affected the area. At least two elderly residents were taken for a combined total of $80,000. One of the victims gave control of her computer remotely to a scammer who claimed to be helping process an unexpected refund. This led to the scammer advising the victim to buy a number of gift cards in order to receive the phony refund. Control of your computer should never be given over to strangers even with the promise of money as this could lead to ransomware or malware being placed on your computer or your personal information being stolen. And as always, no legitimate service, business, or agency will request payment by gift cards.

    Please always keep in mind just because these scams aren’t happening in your area doesn’t mean they’re not on their way.

     
  • Geebo 9:00 am on November 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , tech support scam,   

    Is there really something wrong with your Amazon Prime account? 

    Is there really something wrong with your Amazon Prime account?

    Today, we’re bringing you scams that are happening locally in communities around the country. As we always say, if it’s happening there it could also be happening in your community.

    First up is a report out of Westchester County, New York where police there are warning residents about calls claiming to be from Amazon. Residents have complained about receiving calls from someone claiming that their Amazon Prime accounts have been compromised and need to be renewed. Victims of the scam are then asked for their financial information to resolve the non-existent issue. In one case, a victim was asked to remotely give control of their computer to the scammers so they could ‘improve the security settings.’ So this scam appears to be a hybrid of phishing and the tech support scam.

    A student at Texas A&M recently found herself scammed out of $10,000 in a Social Security scam. She received a phone call with the caller claiming that her Social Security information was misused with some drug issues in El Paso. They threatened her with arrest or she could pay them $10,000. The student was then instructed to transfer money to the scammers by way of BitCoin and gift cards. No government agency will call you on the phone like this and they especially wouldn’t ask for payment in BitCoin and gift cards. If you suspect there may actually be an issue with your Social Security, call the Social Security Administration yourself at their official customer service number of 1 (800) 772-1213.

    Lastly, if you get an unsolicited phone call from someone promising you a great cable deal, it’s more than likely a scam. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of these fraudulent phone calls. The caller will promise you a discounted deal on your cable bill if you pay a certain number of months upfront. As with many scams, they ask you to make the payment by using pre-paid debit cards. Like gift cards, one the scammers are able to get the money off of the pre-paid debit card there’s no way of getting it back.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on October 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , tech support scam, virtual assistant,   

    Beware the activation fee scam for new devices 

    Beware the activation fee scam for new devices

    In the past, we’ve discussed a couple of scams that could affect new owners of such devices like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home. The first was using unofficial apps to help you get your device activated. The second was using your virtual assistant to look up phone numbers for you which could result in being connected to scammers posing as services you may not use that often. Now, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is reporting a new scam that could affect new owners of these devices and this scam could cost users money.

    This new scam kind of resembles the unofficial app scam. The difference with this scam is with fake phone numbers posing as technical support for many of these devices. If someone were to do a web search looking for a technical support number for one of these devices the number that appears may not be that of the company who made the device. Instead, it may belong to scammers who are going to try to get you to pay an ‘activation fee’ while posing as companies like Amazon and Google. This scam not only applies to devices like this but to many other services as well such as anti-virus and printer support just to name a few.

    If you have technical trouble setting up any kind of device or service it is always recommended that you go to the manufacturer’s or distributor’s website to locate the proper customer service number. Scammers will use search engine optimization (SEO) tricks to try to get their phony number listed first on search engines even above those of the legitimate manufacturer’s. Also beware of any technical support that tries to get you to pay for their service using gift cards, prepaid debit cars, or money transfers. That is guaranteed to be part of a scam as once the money is paid, it will be next to impossible to recover from a scam artist.

     
  • Geebo 8:00 am on September 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Ariful Haque, Romana Leyva, , tech support scam   

    Multi-million dollar tech support scam busted 

    Multi-million dollar tech support scam busted

    The tech support scam usually takes one of two forms. The first is you’ll receive a call from someone claiming to be from a company like Apple or Microsoft telling you that your computer has been compromised. The other form is when you see a pop-up or some other warning on your computer telling you that your computer has been infected and you should call a number the pop-up provides to correct the issue. In both cases, the scammers are trying to get you to pay for services that you don’t actually need. This can cost victims anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

    This past week the Department of Justice announced that they had indicted two of these scammers. Romana Leyva, 35, and Ariful Haque, 33, were arrested for their roles in a tech support scam ring that raked in $10 million from 7,500 victims fro across the country. The pair are accused of allegedly setting up fraudulent corporate entities to receive money from the victims who thought they were receiving legitimate tech support services. In this instance, the fraud consisted of pop-ups telling computer users that their computers had been infected with a virus and if they closed the pop-up it could result in catastrophic data loss. The ring would also attempt to make victims of the initial scam pay for phony services again by claiming that the first fictitious company went out of business and for continued ‘service’ they would need to pay again.

    If you receive one of these calls you should immediately hang up as no real company is going to call you to tell you that you have a virus. Also, if you encounter one of these pop-ups it’s more than likely part of a scam and you should never call the number listed. After seeing one of these pop-ups you should also run an anti-malware program like Malwarebytes instead. These scams also tend to target the elderly so if you have an older relative who may not be that computer savvy, please share this story with them.

     
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