BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Tech support scams have been around for years and have affected thousands of individuals. Today, the leading tech support scam is known as the "Microsoft/Apple Scam," and Better Business Bureau Serving Central & South Alabama continues to receive calls from consumers who either received or fell victim to a scam.
According to consumers, a "tech support specialist" calls claiming to be from Microsoft or Apple. The caller informs the consumer a virus has been detected on their computer and offers to remove it. The removal process involves gaining remote access to the computer or purchasing a bogus software license for hundreds of dollars. In an effort to solve the problem, consumers provide not only credit card numbers, but also personal information such as Social Security numbers and passwords.
In a new twist, cyber criminals attempt to defraud individuals browsing the Internet who unknowingly click a link that produces a pop-up warning about a virus or data breach. The warning seems legitimate and provides a phone number for tech support. Once the consumer calls the "tech support company," they are asked to give up remote access to their device.
Signs of a Tech Support Scammer:
• They ask for remote access to your computer that once granted, allows them to make changes to your settings and steal your information.
• Try to enroll you in worthless computer maintenance or warranty programs.
• Ask for credit card information to bill you for phony services or services that are available for free.
• Trick you into installing malware that allows them to steal sensitive information, like usernames and passwords.
How to avoid tech support scams:
• Hang up on unsolicited, third party calls claiming you have a computer virus.
• Do not rely on caller ID to authenticate a caller. Remember, scammers can make any number or name appear on a caller ID, even if they are out of the country.
• For tech support, verify a company's contact information at BBB.org or visit a known company's official website.
• If you receive a pop-up, shut down your computer and take it to a reliable computer repair company.