Beware of ‘tech support’ impostors who can get remote access to your computer, phone

If you get a call out of the blue one day from someone offering to help clean your computer, hang up! It’s probably a scam in which hackers pose as “technical support services.”

The caller may sound to be helpful, but they’re actually harmful. You can guess what comes next. “If you give us access to it and your credit card number, we’ll jump in there and clear it all out.”

According to SOS Hawaii owner Attila Seress, here’s how the computer tech support impostor scam works:

  • An impostor calls you claiming to be from a well known company such as Apple, Microsoft or Google.
  • They tell you that your computer has been infected with a virus and that you can purchase “technical support services” to have it cleaned out (a false claim).
  • They will charge anywhere from $100 to $1,000 to your credit card, have you download a program to your computer that will give them remote control of it and they’ll run a program that makes it look like they have just performed a valuable service on your computer, but it’s all a scam.
  • Like any good scammer, they may keep stringing you along after they’ve obtained remote control to the computer, saying that it’s badly infected and that even more money is needed before they can “clean it out.”

And remember, they have remote access to your computer now, so they can find ways to hack into your other accounts.

Seress says you will never receive an unsolicited call with an offer for technical support.

A message could come on your computer screen, saying that the computer is infected and to call a telephone number for support. Don’t call the number and, instead, reboot your phone, computer or tablet. The message will probably disappear.

Here are some good guidelines to follow:

  • Don’t give credit card or remote control access to your computer to anyone over the phone you don’t already know.
  • Paid antivirus software will often block these things from happening, so pick some up.
  • Only let someone work on your computer in person, or remotely ,only if you know who they are.

In November of last year, the Federal Trade Commission, the state of Pennsylvania and Connecticut took Click4support, a tech support scamming company to court after they had stolen over $17 million from consumers and shut them down. Companies like this operate in the gray area so it makes it hard for government entities to catch until they’ve stolen millions.

They prey on people’s security fears which is understandable considering how often major data breaches are in the headlines.

So think before you react to keep yourself safe.

And if you have a consumer concern, or if you’re interested in becoming an Action Line volunteer, call 591-0222 weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or email actionline@khon2.com.

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