Fake tech support or online technical support scams is something we are going to be seeing a lot more of in 2016. Why? Because they have just about mastered the art of fake online technical support. Here’s how they work and here’s how they fool everyday computer users and small business into believing they are legit.
A friend was on her home computer when she got a pop up alert, like the one seen above. She rang me and said it looks so real. What also helps with this illusion is the 1800 number which is also fake. When you ring this number it diverts to another number, usually offshore in places like India. You will be sceptical when they claim to be from Telstra, or Microsoft, or an agency that deals with tech support for well known firms. You might ask, “how do I know you are for real?”, and this is where it gets clever and very effective. Rather than use their own fake business names like they did in 2015, they will be using the business names of real firms doing real IT work. This is at least one variation of this type of fake scam. They will send you to that firms website to confirm who they are. You are with them on the line and it’s likely you will not phone that firm because you (a) on the phone with them or (b) that firm is in somewhere a long way off like Canada.
Microsoft support technician credentials or other Microsoft competencies is highly regarded in IT support so the scammer of late is sending the sceptical customer to the Microsoft Pinpoint site to check on the credentials of the firm whose name they are borrowing. Your every objection is covered so far except that something about Joe brown from India doesn’t smell kosher. Trust your instinct.
Exposing fakes and how would you know?
Google is littered with fakes for just about everything, such as fake phone numbers and websites for computer and printer vendors. You might think you are talking to HP while the tech person accesses your PC to install “troubleshooting software” but when they fail to fix the issue and start asking for money for their annual support plan and you realise you are being jipped it’s too late. They’ve installed the hidden software to later steal your ID and launch malware from a remote server. Now you are going to need a real IT support tech with sound experience and credentials to clean your computer up.
As you can see it’s getting harder to spot the fakes but keep these tips in mind:
- if you get a pop up alert on your computer warning you about malware, with a number to call, this will be fake. No such thing exists in Windows. Do not call the number.
- if someone calls you just hang up. The more you goad them the more likely you are to become distressed when they threaten to send someone local around to your residence.
- beware of fake antivirus programs alerts, such as the well documented Norton fake antivirus alert and providing a number to call for urgent online tech support. The fake alert could even be for the antivirus program you have installed.
- if in doubt seek help by calling a professional IT guy with Microsoft credentials in your area.
Real Online Tech Support.
The proliferation of fake tech support scams is growing from the real world popularity and convenience of having an online computer technician fix or maintain your computer remotely.
In late 2015 we launched our own version of online tech support within Australia at wiredoffice.com.au partly in response to the fake services and to meet the local demand. Our pricing is capped at 2 hours regardless of how long we spend on your computer. Call us for more advice on checking our credentials which we cannot post online.