Watch Out For Tech Support Scams!

We’ve all heard about tech support scams from cyber-criminals based in other countries. However, a recent article from Malwarebytes mentions that U.S. based criminals are getting into the act.

Sometimes they cold-call their victims; other times they’ll use ads with pop-ups, or they’ll send emails to bring victims to their site. How they go about perpetrating the scam may be slightly different, but the result is the same. Once you get to the site or click on a link or ad, some sort of an alarm or pop-up will say something like:

“We discovered a virus that is infecting your system! Call this number for immediate assistance.”

You get the picture. They’re trying to scare you into calling a special telephone number for emergency support that goes directly to the scammers’ headquarters!

Another scam that’s very effective is a call from someone saying they’re from Microsoft and “they have detected a virus on your system” — which they can eliminate for only a few hundred bucks.

Let me assure you — Microsoft doesn’t call people to clean their computers of infections!

Now, in order to help you, they need remote access to your computer which surprisingly many people give them! Once in the system, they may run some diagnostics, usually just the free tools that comes with the user’s Operating System (i.e. Disk Cleanup, Defragmenter, etc.). Some scammers even run a number of terminal commands that produce a whole lot of cryptic responses on screen, knowing that most people don’t know what they’re looking at and will be impressed by the tech’s “computer knowledge”.

In all cases, nothing is fixed because nothing was really wrong with the computer to begin with. It’s all an elaborate hoax to separate you from your money since all of these scams ask for payment via credit card. That’s how they’re making immediate income, not to mention the fraud they can perpetrate using the credit card information you just entered or confidential information they copied while “working on your problem”.

Never let anyone that you only met via an email, web pop-up, or cold telephone call access your system. Legitimate companies don’t operate that way. A Managed Services Provider (MSP) like XSolutions, would schedule an onsite visit, talk to company management in person, and perform an onsite IT assessment to see what the issues are first. Afterwards, the MSP would give you a detailed report and suggest how they can help you.

The only people you should allow access to your computer systems are your Managed Services Provider (MSP) if you’re a company, or a trusted “computer guy” if you’re an individual consumer.

If you personally fall victim to one of these scams, immediately disconnect the computer from the internet and call a trusted IT Support Company. You should assume the worse and report the incident to the credit card companies and watch for suspicious transactions or replace credit cards altogether. Don’t forget to notify your bank to watch for suspicious transactions and follow their advice.

Companies should call their MSP right away so they can lock down the computer network and investigate what the scammer may have done and what files they may have accessed. Depending on the severity of the intrusion, companies may have to report the incident to various law enforcement agencies, credit card companies (i.e. PCI Compliance), and Government agencies (i.e. HIPAA Compliance), etc. Company credit cards may have to be replaced and your bank notified as noted above.

Scammers are getting more sophisticated as technology advances. They know how to manipulate people and push “hot buttons” to make victims react quickly without fully thinking things through. Don’t get caught. Be careful and guard access to your computer network.

XSolutions is a Managed Services Provider (MSP) and provides 24/7/365 remote monitoring, scheduled workstation and server maintenance, Help Desk Services, Cloud & Hosted Services, Backup/Disaster Recovery, and Software Development. Call us at (845) 362-9675 and see how we can help your company.