How to Protect Yourself From Tech Support Scams

March 1, 2016

If you receive a phone call from someone who claims to be a Microsoft technician and says your computer is having problems that they can fix, just hang up. Microsoft never makes unsolicited support calls, but scammers pretending to come from the company would love to fool you into buying bogus antivirus software or letting them infect your PC with malware. However, you might get a legitimate call from your ISP. So how do you avoid being a victim and what should you do if you've already fallen prey to a tech support scam?

 

How to Tell It's a Scam

 

In addition to pretending they come from Microsoft, scammers may claim to be from "Windows," "Windows Tech Support" or "Windows Service Center." None of these is a legitimate company.

 

There's a minute possibility that your Internet Service Provider would call you if your computer has been infected with malware that turns it into a "bot" for hackers. If a caller claims to be from your Internet service provider (ISP), ask for the caller’s name, where his or her office is located, and for the office telephone number. Ask why you're being contacted by telephone, what the issue with your computer is and how the ISP could tell it was your PC specifically that had a problem.

 

If a call sounds legit, hang up and call the ISP yourself, then ask for the tech support department or for the person who called you specifically. Use a phone number listed on your ISP's website or your bill, not one that the caller gave you.

 

Don't be fooled by the caller ID you see on your phone, because scammers can easily spoof company names like "Comcast" or "Microsoft" in their outgoing calls. Don't be impressed, or scared, by the fact that the caller has your real name, address and phone number. Such information used to be in the phone book; now it's publicly available online.

 

Never give a caller your credit card number or allow them to install software on your PC

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