Online Extortion: Protect yourself from tech support scams

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October 21, 2021 2:30 AM

Five pro-tips from Microsoft Security to protect yourself from tech support scams

Service providers never make unsolicited phone calls for tech support. If you didn’t reach out for tech support, they won’t call you to offer tech support. Beware, scammers often fake Caller ID.Service providers never make unsolicited phone calls for tech support. If you didn’t reach out for tech support, they won’t call you to offer tech support. Beware, scammers often fake Caller ID.

Tech support scams are an industry-wide issue where scammers trick you into accepting unnecessary support services to fix device or software problems that don’t exist. At best the scammers are trying to get you to pay them to “fix” a nonexistent problem with your device or software. At worst they’re trying to steal your personal or financial information.

Microsoft’s 2021 Global Tech Support Scam Research report says consumers in India experienced a relatively high scam encounter rate of 69% between January 2020 to May 2021. Nearly half the consumers surveyed were tricked into continuing with the scam and 31% of those who continued with scam interactions lost money in 2021, a 17-point increase from 2018. Here are five ways you can avoid becoming a tech support scam victim:

Be wary of unsolicited tech support
Service providers never make unsolicited phone calls for tech support. If you didn’t reach out for tech support, they won’t call you to offer tech support. Beware, scammers often fake Caller ID.

Ignore pop-ups with urgent call-to-action
Error messages received from legitimate tech firms never include phone numbers. Browsers like Microsoft Edge block known support scam sites using Microsoft Defender SmartScreen.

Don’t pay in cryptocurrency or gift cards
If you’ve requested tech support, they’ll tell you ahead of time if there’s going to be a fee, and that fee will never be in the form of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or gift cards.

Ensure all apps on your device are legitimate
Never download software from a third-party website or a link in an e-mail. Download software only from official websites, authorized partners, or digital distribution platforms like the Microsoft Store. On your mobile devices, only download from the official app store.

Safeguard private information
Legitimate tech support will never ask for your password, Aadhaar number, or other personal data.

If you’ve already experienced a tech support scam, uninstall any apps the scammers made you install, run a security scan, reset your device and change your passwords. In case you have made a payment, call your credit card provider as soon as possible.

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