These scams typically occur in one of three ways:
- Phone Calls: your phone rings and the callers state they are from Dell, Microsoft, Apple, or some other well known company. They say they have detected a serious problem with your computer and they need to access your computer to run a diagnostic test.
- Pop-up Warnings: a window suddenly appears typically while surfing the internet, often with blaring background sounds, stating that a serious issue has been detected and that you must call a provided telephone number immediately.
- Online Ads and Search Results: you are searching for help and the resulting ads or search results lead you to the scammer instead of a legitimate company.
Legitimate tech companies will never contact you by phone, email or text message to tell you there is a problem with your computer, and security pop-up warnings will never ask you to call a phone number.
If you are scammed to the point where you allowed the scammer to remotely connect to your computer, then you should assume that the scammer now has all of your online passwords and that your computer is now compromised. Your should immediately do the following:
- Power off your computer. On another computer, change all your online passwords and take the opportunity to create very strong passwords.
- If you paid the tech support scammer with a credit or debit card, call the credit card company or bank and try and stop the payment and cancel the card. If you paid with a gift card, contact the company that issued the gift card and see if you can get a refund.
- If you have a backup system image prior to the scam, restore the computer from that system image. If you don’t have a system image, then reinstall the operating system and all the apps (of course backing up your data first).