Tech support teams assist users in overcoming various technical challenges they might be facing while operating a computer or a laptop. Many organizations have dedicated technical support teams to mitigate such eventualities, while many outsource to specialized service providers. Malicious actors often disguise themselves as online technical helping hands and illegally access confidential information, taking advantage of this vulnerability. They may also urge individuals to spend a considerable amount of money by fear-mongering. Victims are often unaware of the technicalities concerning their systems and fall for this trap. Therefore, it is imperative to approach only the genuine technical support teams for any action that might be needed to overcome technical faults and issues.
The above statistics illustrate the rising nature of the estimated cost of digital fraud worldwide from 2018 to 2023. Norton Labs has mentioned in a report that it has blocked almost 12.3 million tech support URLs. It has been topping the list of online threats for 13 consecutive weeks between July and September. It also mentions that tech support threats are a kind of phishing attempt that will see a rise in the coming months, mainly due to the ongoing pandemic and holiday seasons.
How to Spot an Online Tech Support Scam?
Every tech support phishing attempt could begin with something simple as a pop-up that may not seem much. However, the information that it conveys borders on an immediate call to action to either improve system performance or save the system from unknown threats. These pop-ups or emails ask users to wire money, buy gift cards, or even use their proprietary money transfer app. The moment the user starts transferring money, the fake website records all the critical information and stores them for future malicious usage. Many phony tech support providers force users to buy services that may not be necessary. Scammers may also call up unsuspecting users, convey the dreaded news of an impending system failure, and ask them to spend a considerable amount to save their devices.
Methods Used for Online Tech Support Scams
There are quite a few methods that malicious actors use to con customers, as listed below.
- Email: Email has been the ideal phishing weapon for con actors to fool the user. However, with the advent of better anti-phishing solutions, such attempts are gradually being countered. Specialized email phishing protection and anti-ransomware solutions are available in the market today to assist users in opposing such illegal interventions. Nevertheless, it will still take a long time to eradicate the menace.
- Online Ads: Fake tech support organizations often have their services listed on search result pages and online ads, making people believe they are genuine. It leads to users approaching them and ending up losing a lot of money and information or both.
- Phone Calls: Phone calls have also been a helpful tool for tech support scammers. They call up individuals offering them technical support at a reasonable price. They are also the carrier of catastrophic technical news, often compelling their victims to believe something fatally wrong with their system.
- Pop Up warnings: Annoying pop-ups are something people have been dealing with for many years. One must use pop-up blockers to stop them from appearing. Malicious pop-ups take users to fake websites and dupe them for their money and information. Some of the best phishing protection tools and anti-malware have pop-up blocking abilities.
How to Check Whether Something is Wrong With Your System?
There are many ways to check whether the system is working correctly or not. The operating system often provides all the necessary warnings needed for the user to rectify the problem. If it is still not the case, one can always call customer service directly to help overcome the challenges. Every major software producer has its customer service numbers advertised to help its users contact them. More often, software and security updates help resolve the issue.
How To Prevent Online Tech Support Scams?
Awareness is the best way to protect oneself from getting scammed by a tech support scam. Also, updating the system with the best phishing protection tools can help to a great extent. A phishing email or malicious pop-up stands out through its tone and language (though the newer ones are becoming far more subtle and inventive.) The ideal way to stop phishing emails is by blocking them from entering the mailbox using efficient email phishing protection software. Nipping them in the bud is the best possible way. Always remember the below tips to stay safe from tech support scams.
- Up to Date Systems: ‘How to stop phishing emails‘ has been a pertinent question that users often ask. Keeping the system up to date is vital for getting rid of existing vulnerabilities. The security patches identify newer threats and stop them.
- Email Phishing Solutions: There are many email phishing protection solutions in the market. While choosing the right solution, remember that the ideal solution should be able to thwart a phishing attempt in its initial stages only.
- Awareness: The best way to prevent becoming a phishing victim is to be informed. Awareness is the best way to identify and stop any illegal access to the device. It is advisable not to visit unknown sites or click on false links.
What Actions Can Be Taken When Scammed?
There are many ways in which one can mitigate the tech support scam challenge. If the payment is made through a credit or debit card, one can stop it right away. If it’s a gift card, contact the organization offering the card and ask them to stop any transaction. More often, scammers ask for the username and password to the system. Change it immediately if it has been compromised.
Tech Support scams are among the top phishing email scams and have seen a rise in their numbers in recent times. With users more dependent and even addicted to their devices, the statistics will become even starker. The best way to stand up to this challenge is to be informed and not fall for cheap tricks.