The Wake Forest Police Department is urging area residents to guard against becoming the victim of fraud following several recently reported tech support phone scams.
According to Microsoft, tech support scams are an industry-wide issue where scammers use scare tactics to trick you into paying for unnecessary technical support services that supposedly fix contrived device, platform, or software problems.
Scammers may call you directly on your phone and pretend to be representatives of a software company. They might even spoof the caller ID so that it displays a legitimate support phone number from a trusted company. They can then ask you to install applications that give them remote access to your device. Using remote access, these experienced scammers can misrepresent normal system output as signs of problems.
Scammers might also initiate contact by displaying fake error messages on websites you visit, displaying support numbers and enticing you to call. They can also put your browser on full screen and display pop-up messages that won’t go away, essentially locking your browser. These fake error messages aim to trick you into calling an indicated technical support hotline. Note that Microsoft error and warning messages never include phone numbers.
When you engage with the scammers, they can offer fake solutions for your “problems” and ask for payment in the form of a one-time fee or subscription to a purported support service.
You can protect yourself against tech support scams by keeping your computer secure at home. Keeping your computer secure helps you avoid malware and direct hacking attempts designed to steal your personal information.
It is also important to keep the following in mind:
- Microsoft does not send unsolicited email messages or make unsolicited phone calls to request personal or financial information, or to provide technical support to fix your computer.
- Any communication with Microsoft must be initiated by you.
- If a notification appears with a phone number, don’t call the number. Error and warning messages from Microsoft never include a phone number.
- Download software only from official Microsoft partner websites or the Microsoft Store. Be wary of downloading software from third-party sites, as some of them might have been modified without the author’s knowledge to bundle support scam malware and other threats.
If you believe that you are a victim of this type of crime, report it to the Wake Forest Police Department at 919-554-6150.