Are You at Risk? Avoid Technical Support Scams
Cybercriminals don't just send fraudulent email messages. They might call you on the telephone and claim to be from Microsoft or Windows. They might also setup websites with persistent pop-ups displaying fake warning messages and a phone number to call and get the “issue” fixed. They might offer to help solve your computer problems or sell you a software license. Once they have access to your computer, they can do the following:
- Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software.
- Convince you to visit legitimate websites to download software that will allow them to take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.
- Request debit or credit card information so they can bill you for phony services.
- Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter debit or credit card and other personal or financial information there.
“Remember, Microsoft or Windows will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication they have with you must be initiated by you.”
Telephone Tech Support Scams: What you need to know
Cybercriminals often use publicly available phone directories, so they might know your name and other personal information when they call you. They might even guess what operating system you're using.
Once they've gained your trust, they might ask for your user name and password or ask you to go to a legitimate website to install software that will let them access your computer to “fix it”. Once you do this, your computer and your personal information are vulnerable.
Do not trust unsolicited calls. Do not provide any personal information.
Scam Pop-Ups: What You Need to Know
Another well-known trick is the website pop-up, that little browser window that sometimes appears while you’re searching the Web. Cybercriminals set up websites with scam pop-ups with messages and phone numbers. These pop-ups usually are not easy to close.
While some pop-ups are useful and important, others are traps that attempt to mislead you into revealing sensitive personal or financial information, paying for fake anti-virus software, or even installing malware and viruses onto your device.
Do not call the number in the pop-up. Microsoft’s error and warning messages never include a phone number.
How to protect yourself from tech support scams
If someone claiming to be from Microsoft or Windows tech support contacts you:
- Do not purchase any software or services.
- Ask if there is a fee or subscription associated with the "service." If there is, hang up.
- Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer.
- Take the person's information down and immediately report it to your local authorities.
- Never provide your debit or credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from Microsoft or Windows tech support.
What to do if you already gave information to a tech support person
If you think that you might have downloaded malware from a tech support scam website or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer, take these steps:
- Change your computer's password, change the password on your main email account, and change the password for any financial accounts, especially your bank and debit or credit card.
- Scan your computer with the Microsoft Safety Scanner to find out if you have malware installed on your computer.
What to do if you gave out your Bank Account information
If you have given out your bank account information, checking account number or debit card information, you should contact us immediately at any of our branch locations.
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There are many security threats out there. Learn more about common online fraud tactics.
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