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- Online Privacy
- Offline Cyber Threats: How to Spot a Tech Support Scam
What would you do if an agent from a legitimate company called you, offering technical support for a problem you didn't know your computer had? For most people with little technical know-how, this may seem like good customer service that merits a few minutes or hours of their time. Unfortunately, that's not how the story ends.
What many people may not be aware of is that scammers these days are calling people up to offer technical support. Recently, one of these so-called agents went overboard from just scamming to actually threatening to kill a Canadian man for refusing to give him access to his computer. Two large-scale fake support operations shut down by the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in November 2014 was estimated to have earned more than $120 million since 2012.Give us access and we'll help you. Seems like a typical give-and-take relationship, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, scammers will, of course, take more than what consumers bargained for. In a typical tech support scam call, scammers may pose as fake customer service representatives or agents of legitimate companies, including Microsoft and various security companies. They will suggest running tests on your computer to prove that there is a problem. They may also convince you to download and use legitimate screensharing software to grant them access to your computer.
[Read: Popular Online Social Engineering Scams]
Once allowed remote access, they can do anything to your computer. They can install backdoor malware that keeps your computer open for future access without you knowing. They can install spyware and keyloggers that can detect when you’re on an online banking, shopping, or payment site so they can log your credentials and use them to get into your online banking accounts. In many cases, scammers have also asked for banking information during calls.
Here are a few warning signs you can watch out for:
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