Scammers pretending to be from computer companies rely on successful tech support scams to steal your money, gain access to your computer and personal information, or both.
HOW IT WORKS
- You get a call or see a pop-up message on your computer warning that you have a virus (the caller will claim to be from Microsoft, Apple or another well-known tech company).
- They convince you to provide remote access to your computer so they can show you the ‘problem’ – and then pull up benign data that looks threatening to try and convince you to pay them to fix it.
- While on your system, they could install software that puts your computer and the private or personal information you store on it at risk.
- In the end, they will ask you for your credit card number to charge for the repair, and/or will try signing you up for a worthless maintenance plan.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
- An urgent call from a supposed tech company warning you of a virus is a scammer.
- Rely on on-screen messages from your software security that will prompt you to do things like install updates to your security system.
- A follow-up scheme involves the tech company calling you back one day to claim it’s going out of business or it’s offering refunds for some other reason, and they will ask you for your bank or credit card information to process your refund.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
- Hang up on anyone claiming to be from tech support or warning of a virus on your computer.
- If you get a pop-up alert that appears to freeze your computer, don’t follow the instructions. Just shut down your computer and restart to get rid of the phony ad.
- If you are concerned about the security of your computer, go to someone you trust for help. Don’t do an internet search for “tech support” as you may end up on a scammer’s site.
If you've gotten an unsolicited call from someone posing as a tech expert, alert the SD Division of Consumer Protections by calling 1-800-300-1986 or visiting consumer.sd.gov. They can investigate your claims and warn other South Dakotans to stay vigilant.
When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You can join the Fraud Watch Network and receive alerts about scams happening in South Dakota. Any one of any age can join for free by visiting aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or to receive Fraud Watch Network alerts by phone, call 1-866-542-8172.