Article Take-away: Never call any technical support phone numbers based on a popup on your computer. Always shut your computer down. When in doubt, call or email us first. We can tell you if it's a scam so you can avoid being a victim of fraud. The following is a story of a scam we hear a lot. Reading it may prevent you from becoming a victim yourself. The real Microsoft and Google will never reach out to you because you have a virus on your computer.
You’re surfing the internet looking for a new chicken casserole recipe, when suddenly a full-screen message appears informing you that you have a virus. You almost spill your coffee when you realize that the loud alarm noise that just started is actually coming through your computer’s speakers, and you panic as your heart rate starts to rise. You frantically start clicking on the red X at the top of your internet browser to close the message, but nothing happens.
You quickly start to read the full message that is flashing in large red letters on your screen. It tells you in no uncertain terms that your computer is infected with a very serious virus. Conveniently, just below that frightening notice you see there’s a toll-free Microsoft technical support number provided to call just below your warning message.
You think, “What choice to do I have?”, and you call the phone number.
A man on the other end picks up after 2 rings and informs you immediately that you have a very serious virus, and that they are a “Microsoft Technical Support Agent” that is able to help you right now. If you don’t work with them, the virus will delete all of your important files and that they are the only ones that are able to help you. They tell you they just need you to help them get connected to your computer so that they can assist you. You don’t know what else to do, so you follow their instructions and pretty soon you see your cursor moving all over the screen on its own.
The man on the other end of the phone is pulling up all sorts of technical things in your computer’s settings showing you where you have a virus, and making you even more concerned about how severe this whole thing really is.
It’s usually at this point that the “Microsoft Technical Support Agent” tells you about their different pricing plans. Their low, one-time virus removal fee of $399, or a full one-year support plan for only $1,049. All they need is a credit card number or your bank account information to process the payment.
You’re suspicious, but you pay it anyway because you don’t want to lose all of your stuff! A week later, the same message appears, and you notice there are a number of charges you don’t recognize on your credit card.
There are a lot of good people being taken advantage of, and we want this sort of thing to stop. The only way we can stop it, is to inform our customers about what you can do to protect yourself from these fraudulent tech support companies. These messages/popups are not real virus warnings; The technical support agent claiming to work for a large technology company is a cyber criminal who is attempting to get your credit or bank account information by providing technical support to remove a popup message that they caused.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN THE WARNING/MESSAGE APPEARS ON MY SCREEN?
Each week, we receive A LOT of calls from customers who have fallen victim to this type of technical support scam. We are determined to spread the word about this so that more people do not become victims. While the number of scams out there are seemingly endless, this article just outlines one of the most common ones that we see.
As our story above suggests, we usually see these scams start with a pop up on your computer while you’re browsing the internet. They’re usually worded in a way that frightens people, and sometimes you can’t even close out of the message. We’ve even seen audio warnings playing over our customers speakers. Never call the phone number that appears.
All of these things are done to scare you into calling the technical support number that is almost always conveniently included with the warning.
Remember, if this popup happens to you, don’t hesitate to give your friendly, local computer repair shop a call. At TotusTech, we’ll be happy to listen to your description of what happened and tell you if it’s something that needs to be looked at or not. Most of the time, we’ll just tell you it’s a scam and to restart your computer and run your virus scan program as long as you call before you give the fake tech support company access to your computer.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I'VE ALREADY GIVEN THEM ACCESS TO MY COMPUTER?
If you’ve already given them access to your computer, they’ll likely have remote access to your computer anytime they wish. That access needs to be removed to secure your computer, and we’ll want to make sure they haven’t changed any other settings or installed any additional malicious software.
Here's what we suggest you do if you've given a fake technical support company access to your computer.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE?
First, keep in mind that seeing one of these messages does not necessary mean you did anything “wrong” and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. While these messages can appear if you visit an unsafe website, they often happen if you accidentally click an unsafe advertisement on a “safe” website. If you notice these types of messages a lot, you may have malware or adware on your computer causing that, which would need to be removed with a malware removal tool like Malwarebytes or AdwCleaner. We have included safe download links to both of these programs in the Resources area at the bottom of this article.
Even if you do have updated antivirus software, adware is often missed like this.
If you can’t remove the malware on your own, we are happy to assist you.
HELPFUL RESOURCES & SAFE DOWNLOAD LINKS
Download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
Be sure to choose the Free Download option.
Click on the Free Download button after clicking this link.
Official Microsoft Blog: Avoiding Phone Scams
Official FBI Internet Scam Learning Resource
Give us a call at 630-780-5252
*This article is provided for informational purposes only. The opinions contained within are solely the opinions of the author.
Many of our customers are upgrading to Windows 10 through Microsoft's free upgrade offer. To help make using Windows 10 a bit easier, we've collected a few great training videos to help introduce you to Windows 10. Videos can be found by scrolling down.
Free Online Training Resources
Getting Started with Windows 10 - GCFLearnFree.org