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Fight Against IT Support Scammers

Posted on 2020-04-01 11:42:07

 

The elderly man on the phone begins to sob after the IT support representative tells him what it will cost to repair the man’s computer. “£1, 295 (about $1500)!” the senior weeps. The support staff tells the retiree not to cry. The man says, “I suffer from depression.” The video shows the support representative and his colleagues laughing at the encounter.

A British man operating under the fake name “Jim Browning” provided the BBC with the video clip. After years of suffering the offshore fraudsters, Brown decided to reveal the network of criminal IT support staff. He hacked the CCTV cameras of hundreds of the IT support companies without their knowledge. And, though his own actions run counter to the law, he had revealed the ruthless operations that cost American consumers $55 million in 2018 alone

Make no mistake, the operations are highly professional. The video shows an office filled with cubicles staffed by young men and women dressed business-casual, just as you would find in any legitimate company.

You can protect against cybercriminals like these with a few simple steps and with the kind of support that Managed IT service provider Sound IT offers.

How the Scam Works

Scammers around the world create websites that look like those of name brands. Some fake websites, after a moment, lock up computer operations and display a blinking screen with a warning to the user. 

The screen says that the computers are infected by a virus and that they should call Microsoft Tech Support to repair the computer. The screen shows the phone number that users should call immediately. Why Microsoft? Their operating system is on the largest share of computers in the world. Plus their size and notoriety give their name great authority.

Let’s say you are the victim of one of these scams. You call the phone number on the screen. A voice answers the phone claiming to be a Microsoft representative. Often, though not always, the voice is Indian. He or she will ask you what the problem is. It’s important to note here that “he or she” is not just a grammatical nicety. There are women scammers that consumers need to be aware of, too. In any event, you read the message over the phone. The scammer says something like, “Oh my God! That is very serious!” 

If you ask, “How serious?” you’re as good as hooked. 

Many times they will ask for remote control of your computer. Never permit someone to take control of your computer unless you are working with a valid local services provider. Scammers can actually plant more malware on your computer. They then can watch you through your own camera, turn on the computer when they please, and download any files they want. They especially want to get at files with your financial information.

Then negotiations on the price you can afford to unlock your computer begin after they’ve poked around your computer a bit. As with the elderly gentleman who opened this article, the price will be quite exorbitant. 

When the scammer feels assured you are paying the most you have at hand not necessarily what you can afford and you pay the amount, then they will delete the warning sign from your computer and seemingly return control of your computer back to you.

What to Do If You Think You are Being Scammed

If you think you are being scammed, DO NOT call the phone number on the warning screen. Instead, take a photo of the screen (with your smartphone or camera), then email the shot to a trusted local service provider like Sound IT. They will be able to tell you immediately whether the problem is legitimate or not, often without charging you. 

Either way, they should be able to give you an estimate of the cost of remediation that is magnitudes less than scammers would charge. Also, you can rest assured you would not have any additional malware placed on your computer.

How to Prevent Being Scammed

Sound IT is a Managed IT services company. The package it offers individuals and small businesses are meant to protect  computers, make sure they are running smoothly, and quickly set things right with them in the event of an IT-related emergency. One of the reasons users become susceptible to online scams is that they have left their computer unprotected.

Sound IT uses industry-leading antivirus software to defend computers against unwitting malware attacks. Having software that is up-to-date and with any vulnerabilities patched is also an important aspect of keeping computers up and running.

Sound IT implements and supports a tightly integrated “stack” of software on every computer it manages. The Managed IT company makes sure every stack is up-to-date. It can quickly and with great assurance remediate any problems that may occur within the set of software it validates for use.

 

Though scammers have become more sophisticated in the ways in which they can part people and businesses from their money, there are means of protecting yourself against the criminals. Use common sense and good taste in surfing the web; do not panic if you encounter computer problems; and invest in the kind of service and protection a Managed IT company like Sound IT offers.    

 

Sound IT is a Managed IT services company based in downtown Edmonds, Washington. Call us at 425-654-2502 to find out how we can help you!