According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), tech support schemes are on the rise and 66% of all reports from 2020 were from older adults 60+. In this instance, criminals may pose as a company’s representative offering to help with issues regarding your bank account, email, or computer software.
The FBI reports that the first contact can occur in many different ways.
- Telephone: You receive an unsolicited telephone call from a criminal impersonating computer support, bank representatives/support, and utility companies.
- Search Engine Advertising: Don’t search online to find support numbers, visit the company’s direct website. Criminals pay to have their fraudulent company’s link show higher in search results hoping victims will choose one of the top links in search results.
- Pop-up message: When an on-screen pop-up message claiming a virus was found on their computer the message requests the victim call a phone number associated with the fraudulent tech support company.
- Email: You receive an email warning of support subscription expiration or a potentially fraudulent charge on their account. The victim is encouraged to contact the fraudulent support via phone.
Tips to Protect Against Tech Support
- Legitimate customer, security, or tech support companies will not initiate unsolicited contact with individuals; nor, demand immediate payment, or require payment via prepaid cards, wire transfers, or mailed cash.
- Install ad-blocking software that eliminates or reduces pop-ups and malvertising, which are online ads that incorporate or install malware. Ensure all computer anti-virus, security, and malware protection is up to date.
- Be cautious of customer support numbers obtained via open-source searching. Phone numbers listed in a “sponsored” results section might be boosted because of search engine advertising.
- Resist the pressure to act quickly. Criminals will urge the victim to act fast to protect their device. Legitimate companies will allow time for a person to process and research any questions.
- Never give unknown, unverified persons remote access to devices or accounts.