The Infamous Windows Tech Support Scam

Avoid these techincal support scams at all cost

Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2016 — New York

Here’s one that targets anyone with a computer. In the old days it would be mainly PCs but with Apple being more popular lately, there’s no room left to hide.

There are a few different scenarios we’ve seen. In our first example, malware (harmful software) perhaps via an advertisement on a website, or from a program downloaded to the computer, will pop open a window with a message alerting the user to computer problems, and instructing the user to call a telephone number.

Once that number is dialed, the person on the other end tries to initiate remote control software in order to take over the machine. All this usually with the cooperation of the victim, who doesn’t realize that it is a scam.

The theft can come from accessing files on the remote machine, logging keystrokes, or getting the victim to pay for the “service.”

In more a more extreme scenario, the scammers can actually lock a machine and request a ransom for opening the machine up.  This can happen with or without the user granting remote access.

What should you do if you’re a victim? Here are a few things you can do:

  • Seek professional PC support to clean up any security issues
  • See if you can get the charges reversed, afterward get a new card # issued
  • Check your credit report to make sure no other purchases were made
  • Report the number to sites that list telemarketing numbers
  • Let friends and family know how the scam works, hopefully before it happens

Further reading:

Here’s a great article from Ars Technica, that’s a couple of years old, but they go into great detail about just how the scammers operate and how a typical scam plays out.

A quick YouTube search will lead to plenty of videos that you can listen in on and see screen recordings. Thankfully with most of these there’s either law enforcement or a professional PC technician on the line. I don't recommend getting involved with the scammers, just hang up. Here's one example from the Spyware removal folks at Malwarebytes


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