If your computer had a virus, you’d want to know about it ASAP, right?
Before your important files become corrupted, you lose your photos and your digital life is essentially destroyed. Even thinking about it is terrifying.
Tech scammers know we’d be lost without our computers, and that we don’t always know what’s going on behind the screen – which is why they’ve been able to swindle millions from every day people across the world.
The scam goes like this:
You receive a random phone call from someone with a heavy accent (usually Indian) saying they’re from Microsoft, or an alarming pop-up appears on the screen, saying it looks like your system has been infected with a virus.
To fix the problem, they need to you to download some support software, which they’ll give you a special link for.
A technician then uses that software to gain access to your system and make it appear your system is riddled with viruses. Flashing screens, mysterious diagnostics whizzing by, fabricated errors…they’ll do or say anything to make you panic. They’ll even go as far as claiming your system has been infected with illegal content and if not corrected, you’ll face criminal charges.
Demands for credit card information follow immediately after. Once paid, they simply stop fiddling with your system to make it seem the problem is fixed. To continue the scam, they’ll soon access your system to recreate the problem, this time offering a subscription for ongoing protection.
What to do if you’re targeted by a tech scam
1. Don’t taunt them. Just hang up. Right now you’re only a phone number in their system and they’ll move onto the next – if you give them cause to target you personally, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation.
The real Microsoft will never randomly call people like this. Ever.
2. If a pop-up appears, immediately run an anti-virus scan. Don’t click the pop-up or call the number.
What to do if you’ve already been scammed
It’s okay. It feels horrible, but you’re not alone and the situation can be corrected.
Call your financial institution and have the charges reversed and your card reissued. It’s easier than you might think and helps the authorities locate the scammers.