The scammers are ramping up their tech support scams and raking in the dough. There are two in high circulation right now. In the first the scammers masquerade as Microsoft support, calling unsuspecting victims and telling them their computers security has been compromised but can be fixed for a fee. In the second, a dialog box appears on the victims machine claiming that it is infected with a virus and they must call a 1-800 number to have it removed. In both cases the scammers ask you to download software which allows them to gain control of your machine so they can “fix” your problem.
Of course they are doing no such thing as there is nothing wrong with your machine. In the best case scenario, they are simply faking a fix and then demanding payment for their non-service. In the worst case, they are loading malware onto your machine so they can record every key stroke you make and gain access to your banking information and anything else they fancy. Once they get a hold of your personal information they can request bank transfers, apply for credit cards and open new bank accounts using your identity.
To add insult to injury, scammers are no longer satisfied with defrauding their victims only once. While their victims are feeling overwhelmed and violated from the initial scam, the criminals strike again posing as government officials or law enforcement offering to recover lost funds for a fee.
This is a reminder:
- There is no way someone can tell that your computer is compromised without actually connecting to it.
- If they connect to your computer without your permission, they are a hacker not tech support.
- Microsoft does not make support calls.
- No legitimate anti-virus software will give you a 1-800 number to call to get rid of a virus.
- No legitimate company will call you saying your computer is compromised and offer to fix it.
- Neither government nor law enforcement will accept payment for services. That is called a bribe and it is illegal.
If you are a victim of a tech support scam:
- Uninstall any software that the scammers asked you to download and run a virus scan.
- Contact the Calgary Police Service to obtain a police case number.
- Call the credit card company immediately and have the charges reversed. Give them your police case number.
- Contact your financial institutions and inform them of the incident. Give them your police case number.
- Contact a credit monitoring company such as TransUnion or Equifax and have a fraud alert added to your credit file. Give them your police case number.
- Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and report the incident.
- Keep an eye on your bank and credit card statements.