Scammers taking advantage in the pandemic; this time it’s fake tech support offers

Consumer Report

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Georgia Attorney General’s Office warns that scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic, with so many people working from home.

The office says as people rely on the internet for teleworking and online learning, tech support scams are now emerging to steal people’s personal and financial information.

“The scam artists are going to try to take advantage of this situation,” said Shawn Conroy, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office. “They know that people are under some stress. We just want consumers to take a moment before they click on something.”

Conroy says scammers may pose as a representative from Microsoft, Dell or other tech support. Victims may also get a pop-up window on their computer, saying that a virus has been detected on their device.

It then instructs them to call a phone number right away to unfreeze their computer and have the virus removed.

Tom Stephens with the Better Business Bureau says you’re being told the stranger can solve a problem you don’t have.

“There’s nothing wrong with the computer, they’re just trying to extort money or plant malware on your computer to steal your information,” Stephens told News 3.

Stephens says however you may be notified — whether a text message, email or a pop-up — remember that major tech companies don’t make contact first and never provide a phone number.

“So, if you get a pop-up that says you have a problem with your computer and you need to call such and such a number for Microsoft Tech, it’s a scam,” Stephens said.

He says never let a stranger take control of your computer remotely, and the only time you should be dealing with tech support is if you call or email the company yourself.

“If get a call from someone who says they’re from Microsoft or some other company, and you haven’t either sent an email yourself or called them yourself, just hang up the phone. It’s a scammer,” he said.

Stephens says you just have to take a second and remember that phone calls or text messages — and now pop-ups — are most often an attempt to get something from you, i.e. money or information.

The Attorney General’s Office advises:|

  • Never click on pop-up messages purporting to be from technical support or call the phone number listed in a pop-up message.
  • If you get a pop-up message and your computer freezes, simply shut down your computer and restart it. The message should go away.
  • If you receive a call purporting to be from Microsoft or other technical support, hang up. It is a scam.
  • Never give remote control of your computer to someone who calls you out of the blue or whose number you got from a pop-up message.

For more information about tech support scams, visit visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

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