Tech support scams pose as well-known companies to steal money, private information

Published: Mar. 11, 2020 at 5:05 AM EDT
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is warning everyone of an increase in tech support scammers and a change to their methods. They can now reach you on your computers, tablets, and even your phone.

Tech support scams often look like a legitimate message from a company or product you use every day. This type of fraud falls into the "impostor scams" category.

"It's where they get people's attention with names people recognize and then misrepresent not only who they are but what the issue is," Julie Wheeler with the BBB said. "So in this case a major manufacturer or tech supplier."

Some of the most common companies scammers pose as include Google, Microsoft, Dell, Facebook and Apple.

"It could come as a text message on your phone," Wheeler said. "It could come as an email with a link saying we've detected a problem. It could be a phone call saying we're with a big national company."

Often these scams will insist there's an urgency to the situation.

"That's a red flag in pretty much anything we report on which is, 'You've got to act now or something bad is going to happen,'" she explained. "In this case, your computer is going to stop working. You're going to lose all your files. Your phone is no longer going to function."

These scammers will claim they're getting an error on your device and that you must act right away to protect your information.

"If you give that access then they can do whatever. Whether it's locking up your computer with ransomware where you have to pay to get all your files back, or keystroke loggers where it'll then get your user i.d.'s and passwords for every site that you visit. Or maybe you store your account numbers in a file on your computer."

And though older generations or people who aren't as savvy with technology are the most likely victims, young people are getting scammed too at higher and higher rates.

"You know, you've been using your device your entire life, whether it's your phone or your laptop or whatever and you don't even think before you click," Wheeler said. "So you go, you do it, you provide any information they need and go on and don't even realize you've been compromised."

Not only is the victim demographic changing, but so are the tactics the scammers use to reach you. You might see

and ask for your bank account number to deposit it. Or that

that you need to pay to update.

Wheeler said the best thing to do when you see this type of message is to just ignore them and then report them.

"Don't click on those links. Don't respond to the phone call. Don't give remote access. And don't ever pay in gift cards to get your computer cleaned up. If you've got an issue and you're dealing with a legitimate company, they're going to want a legitimate form of payment."

To report a scam, even if you've not lost any money, contact your local


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