Computers, tablets and phones make our lives easier that is until something goes wrong and then you’re in trouble. However sometimes nothing goes wrong and yet you’ll still get a call from someone claiming to be Microsoft stating that they’ve received an error code from your device. These people are tech support scammers and they will say and do anything to get your credit card, bank account and online payment information before providing “support” if they actually do anything.
So, you get a call from (Chris) and he says your desktop is sending them an error code telling them you have been infected with a virus. They’ll do several things to “diagnose” the “problem” but in reality they’re setting you up to take the bait. They’ll ask to connect to your computer using a RAT or remote access tool which gives them full control of the computer. This allows them to open files, see your pictures, browse your online accounts, open already logged in accounts and they can download software and install it from six thousand miles away while sitting in a small cubical in a giant call center.
Once connected via the RAT the “technician” will run some scans to find viruses but what they’re really doing is running a fake scan with information they’ve already prewritten and if you aren’t good with technology it looks real. They’ll usually tell you the price for fixing the “issue” which is a onetime fee of $100 or something. They then will offer a multiyear plan for 24 7 tech support through their company which claims to be a Microsoft partner. Keep in mind they still haven’t fixed your computer or found any real viruses or signs of hackers but want you to pay up front with a credit card. They’ll keep pushing the support plan ranging from $199.00 for one year to $499.00 for a three year plan.
Here’s the catch, once you give them your payment details they’ll charge whatever they want and you can’t stop them. So not only are you paying for a nonexistent problem but you’re also paying more than what you agreed too and the card can be charged over and over. They will stay connected to the computer after taking the payment and act like they’re fixing the “problem” but chances are they’re locking you out of your own system. They’ll lock up your data and charge you a fee to get the password to the data and if you refuse to pay you now have a big paper weight sitting on your desk.
What can you do about these scammers and can you get your money back? You can report scammers to several organizations who will work on shutting down scammers legally, the FBI has raided several American companies and has worked with India to target call centers working out of India. Scammer.info is a website set up by a You Tube user called LewisSTech and his friends. The site has a list of known scammers and also allows users to submit new reports on possible scammer numbers and websites.
Getting your money back is a long process and is unlikely unless legal action is taken through your bank. Please be careful out on the internet and watch out for tech support scammers. Also make sure to use internet explorer as it’s the best browser ever! (lolz)
Writer, Musician, advocate for Cannabis and owner of Z&Z Errands.com