What to Do If You Fall for a Microsoft Tech Support Scam

Criminals will do anything to separate you from your money. They will lie, cheat, and steal their way into your wallet, bank account, or money you have hidden away in your house. One easy way for criminals to try and steal money from unsuspecting victims is to use phone calls or emails to contact victims and offer computer services.

What You Need to Know: The Anatomy of a Scam

This tech support scam is done by pretending to be from a big computer company such as Microsoft or Apple and telling the victim that they have detected that their computer has a problem and for a small fee it can be fixed. This is successful because the victims they are targeting do not know much about computers and cybercriminals are depending on the fact that victims will pay a small fee to fix any problem they may have. These cybercriminals will pretend to be from a Microsoft or Apple’s Tech Support, Service Center, Help Desk or other legitimate sounding entities.

Once a victim is identified and on the hook for the services these criminals are offering, they will ask for a victim’s username and password or direct the victim to a website to download and install software that will allow them to take control of his or her computer. At this moment the victim is now open to personal information being stolen or held for ransom.

Help! What Do I Do?

These scams are effective because they seem legitimate. It is reasonable to believe that Microsoft, Apple or another company can detect a problem with an internet-connected computer. If this has happened to you, there are immediate steps you can take to help prevent further problems:

1. Immediately change all your passwords. Yes. Every single online password you have. (It’s advised that you change your passwords using a different computer, one which has not been involved with the scam). Start with the password to your computer and work from there to change your email, bank, online store, and other online passwords. When you give cybercriminals your computer account information and they have access to your computer, they are you from a cyber perspective. They can change the password to any account you have: bank account, credit card, Amazon, online stores, etc… It is easy for them to go through your emails and identify what companies you have accounts with. They then can use the “Forgot Password” function to get a new password. Since they have access to your computer and email, they can change passwords with many companies without any extra interaction of information from you. Use a password management application such as LastPass or 1Password to store complex passwords to all of your online accounts.

2. Ensure you have sufficient Anti-virus protection installed on your computer. Here at Nexus we recommend AVG for PCs and we advise Kaspersky for Apple Macs. We can install this Anti-virus protection for you, contact us today and let us install this for you.

3. Make sure you get your computer thoroughly cleaned and checked. This is a service we offer at Nexus so do not hesitate to contact us. We would investigate and run our specialist virus / malware scans on your machine, we’d also check for any suspicious software which may have been installed on your computer and install our recommended Anti-virus software.

4. Report the crime to your local law enforcement. Take a moment to write down the date and time this happened to you, what transpired, and what was taken from you. Contact your local authorities to file a report. Yes, it is extra work that may not have immediate benefits, but think of all the other unsuspecting victims who may benefit from you reporting the crime.

5. Resolve not to be a victim again. Don’t beat yourself up because it has happened to you. If you get a call from someone like this, ask for the caller’s name and phone number so that you can call them back if the call is disconnected. (This can be used when you report them to the authorities.) Under any circumstances, do not pay for any service that is offered. Do not purchase any software offered, either. If it sounds too good to be true, most likely it is. Do not give out account information to anyone who contacts you via the internet, email, or phone that you did not seek out first. Do not give out your credit card or bank information via the phone or online for transactions like this.

If you need help with your computer, our staff at Nexus are available to meet your IT needs. We are highly qualified and motivated to meet your needs whether it is to scan your computer for security vulnerabilities, upgrade your computer to make it faster, or help you with your next purchase. Contact us today 01753 884700 or drop by to see us at our Gerrards Cross location. We would love to meet you and help you with your IT needs.

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