Protect Yourself from Fake Tech Support

It is something just about every computer user has faced at one time or another. The computer suddenly freezes just as you are finishing an important email, or shuts down for no discernible  reason and ruins hours of your hard work.

Then out of the blue you receive a phone call from a supposed tech support expert, offering to help fix your computer and get your system working again. You may wonder how that technician even knew you were having trouble, but you give them access to your PC anyway.

That is when the real trouble starts. That supposed technician is really an intrepid computer thief, trolling the Internet and making cold calls in search of new victims. Pretty soon your personal information is in the wild, and a stranger is in possession of your identity.

Tech support and fake hacking schemes are on the rise, and they take many different forms. Sometimes it is a cold call offering help with a supposed computer problem. Since most of us experience computer problems at some point, the bad guys know they are likely to get a hit.

Then there are the fake hacking scams. Instead of offering help with a computer problem, the caller claims that the victim’s email has been hacked, and that their account is sending out spam messages. They may even threaten legal action if the hacking issue is not resolved quickly, and of course they offer help to resolve it – if only you can give them access to your computer.

No matter what form the fake tech support or hacking scam takes, computer users should not take the bait. These calls may seem legitimate, especially if you just got done swearing at your PC or staring at the dreaded blue screen of death. But take a minute and think about it – how would a total stranger, even a well-meaning one, know that you are having trouble with your computer?

If you find yourself on the receiving end of a auspicious computer-related phone call, you should never give the caller access to your computer. Instead, you should gather as much information as you can, including the name of the company they are calling from, their callback phone number and the location where they work.

Chances are the fake technician will decline to provide that information, or if they do they may give you false information. Either way, you can start by Googling the phone number and the name of the company. You will probably see that others have experienced the same bogus phone calls and reported their suspicions online.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to computer tech support and hacking scams is that Microsoft, Google, Facebook and other companies do not routinely call their customers to initiate support. If you are having a problem with your computer, you will have to call them.