Tech support scams are up, warns Microsoft

Tech support scams are up, warns Microsoft
Tech support scams are up, warns Microsoft

Hackers are always on the lookout for new ways to make more money. Cybercriminals have an impressive arsenal of tools to use in order to retrieve data or money from someone’s network. One of the methods that they are using far more often is the tech support scam.

Microsoft has received over 150 000 reports globally in 2017 from people who have either become aware of the scam or having fallen victim to it. This figure is 24% higher than it was in 2016.

“There are a number of ways that cybercriminals can leverage this scam to gain access of your network or steal money or information. It takes the form of either an online customer support chat or phone call with the scammer while will try to convince you that there is something wrong with your software that needs to be immediately remedied,” explains Indi Siriniwasa, Vice President of Trend Micro, Sub-Saharan Africa.

These fake tech support scammers pose as technical support from reputable companies, or the victim’s ISP and then convince them that there is something wrong with their computer. For a fee – paid to them via credit card – the glitch can be fixed. They often ask for remote access to your computer in order to ‘fix’ it, giving them the opportunity to download malware. Through this, they have access to accounts, login details and personal details which they could later use or sell on to other malicious actors.

“People who fall prey to these scams get stung twice: not only do they lose money, but they have compromised their personal details, opening themselves up to possible identity theft. The frightening thing is that this kind of attack has increased and is becoming more prevalent. Anyone can be a target,” says Siriniwasa.

Be wary of any unsolicited phone calls from people claiming to be from a service provider or from Apple, Microsoft or any IT company. Don’t hand over details or give any information to anyone. Instead, get more details from the individual and phone the company’s customer service line to check.

“Take the time to check and check again. Check the website address you’ve typed as hackers take advantage of people mistyping legitimate website addresses. Keep all your software up to date and install good, reliable security software. Stay away from any unsolicited emails and don’t click on suspicious links or download suspicious documents. Be careful of the stuff you download from the internet – there are many links and downloads that may contain malware,” advises Siriniwasa.

And if you have been scammed? Delete any remote access software immediately and use reputable security software to check for any malicious software. The next step is to change all passwords for all devices and online accounts.
“If you have been a victim of a scam, it’s important that you notify your bank and cancel any cards that may have been compromised. Report the scam to the relevant providers. It’s also wise to keep a watchful eye on your bank account. Scammers like to come back to their targets, so watch out for follow up scams. Be aware, get secure and keep the hackers at bay”, says Siriniwasa.

Edited by Neo Sesinye
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