In this modern world we can do almost anything online, and even more so now since the pandemic – working remotely, virtual classes, shopping, banking, and connecting with friends. But because we are so dependent on the internet and our digital devices, if something goes wrong, we want to fix it right away… better yet, we NEED to fix it right away, opening the doors for tech support scammers.  

If fake pop-up warning messages on your computer screen or phone calls indicating your computer is infected sound familiar, then this is the blog for you! This million-dollar industry preys on those innocent enough to believe that they may have a serious problem with their computer, when really, it’s just a scam.  

How it Works 

Cloud computing, BYOD, AI, biometrics – at some point these words start to sound made up, and we start feeling overwhelmed. This is exactly how scammers want us to feel. They not only disguise themselves as well-known tech companies, such as Microsoft, Apple or McAfee, but they also throw confusing terminology at us to throw us off our game and pressure us into paying for unnecessary or fraudulent technical support services. 

Here are some common requests scammers ask of their victims to trap them into tech support fraud: 

  • Asking you to give them remote access to your computer 
  • Trying to sell you warranty programs for your computer 
  • Installing malware that gives them access to your computer and personal information 
  • Asking for credit card information for billing purposes 
  • Directing you to a different website for payment 

Microsoft released their 2021 survey to look at various tech support scams and see its effects on consumers on a global level. Although it’s clear that many consumers are now more suspicious and untrusting of pop-up messages, there are some who continue to unknowingly interact with scammers, resulting in loss of money. 

Survey Highlights: 

  • Three out of five consumers have come across a tech support scam within the last 12 months 
  • One out of six consumers were tricked into engaging with the scam 
  • Millennials and Gen Zers have the highest exposure to tech support scams 

Are you a victim? Here’s What to do 

You’re not alone. Many have experienced this industry-wide issue. According to the FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Report, 15,421 people had fallen victim to tech support fraud, resulting in a loss of over $146 million. Here are some tips on what to do if you’ve fallen for one: 

  • File a complaint with local law enforcement  
  • Report the scam to the company’s fraud department and notify your credit card or bank of the incident 
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit report to stop someone from opening a new credit account or loans in your name without your knowledge  
  • Run virus scans 
  • If the device has been corrupted, contact a trusted computer tech, or have your work IT handle the scam 

How we can Help 

Who hasn’t won a competition they never entered for or downloaded a free tool to clean up their computer? These mistakes can happen, but it is important to have proactive approaches to minimize potential threats and scammers. Did you know 43% of recent cyberattacks are targeted towards small to mid-sized businesses? Being observant to warning signs, appropriate company training to educate employees on company data, and company filtering solutions can reduce the risk of falling victim.  

Tech support fraud can have severe and long-term impacts on your finances and online experiences. Here at Netsweeper, our AI-driven content filtering platform stops cyberattacks, prevents the loss of sensitive data, and specializes in recognizing phishing attacks.  

For more information on different types of cybercrime and how to protect yourself and business assets, book a demo with our solution experts and download: 

Submitted by: Natasha Pande