Privacy and tech support scams

, minute read

Malicious actors are into various ways to make sure they have your sensitive personal data. And if you’re are not handing it to them, they’ll trick you through various ways until you sabotage your security and privacy. Besides phishing (email scams), the other common tricks malicious actors use to get your data is through tech support scams.

The devices you use, software and even tech services sometimes breakdown and you might require technical assistance from the vendor or manufacturers. Cybercriminals exploit this want of assistance to get your sensitive data in what is called tech support scams.

Tech support scams rely on scare tactics; malicious actors will trick you into believing there’s a problem with your system and it needs fixing. The most common scare tactic is that your device has been infected by malware and that their services can remove it swiftly. Below are major types of tech support scams and how to protect yourself;

  • Web scams and pop up warnings
    This can be termed as the most common tech support scam that you may encounter when surfing the internet. While browsing on some sites, you might click on the website, and you will be taken to another website with an alert page saying that your device has been infected with malware. There’s usually a call to action button “click here to remove malware.”

Pop Up Warnings Privacy And Tech Support Scams

At times, a pop up may appear stating that your device has been infected and a button saying click here to clean your device. Other sophisticated web scams use intrusive persistent JavaScript (internet programming language) in which you won’t be able to close the pop-up or alert window. This will make you believe for sure that your device has been infected.

If you click on the call to action button, you might be asked to download a file that will give the so-called ‘technicians’ access to your device. Other scams provide a toll-free number on which you can call the technicians.

  • Phone scams
    In this type of tech support scam, both you and malicious actors can initiate the scam. In your case, it starts from the web scam and you calling the so-called ‘technicians’ to remove malware from your device.

On the other hand, malicious actors can call you and claim they are tech support from maybe your antivirus company. They may then convince you that there’s a new malware doing rounds and that the antivirus update is rolling out slowly and you might have been infected. To ensure that your device is safe from the malware, they offer you a quick way to protect or scan your system to get rid of the malware. This continues for a long time until they convince you to install some software that gives them remote access to your device.

With full access, malicious actors can then steal all the sensitive information and even install malware and charge you a fee for removing it.

  • Malicious online ads and listings
    As mentioned earlier, many people require assistance when their devices, software, and services break down. And when a problem occurs, searching the internet for the solution is the first thing to do. Scammers have noticed this, and they have set up ads, and their websites to provide ‘assistance’. Unsuspecting victims might click on the ads and eventually call the scammers for help.

How to protect yourself from tech support scams

Scammers are always after your data. The best way to protect against them is by taking care of your online privacy – not sharing your personally identifying information. Here are some tips to protect against tech support scams;

  • Avoid clicking on pop up ads

Some pop ads are legitimate such as the ones on legitimate sites. But if an ad is prompting you to call or sign up for a service to remove malware from your device, never click on it. Close the browser tab or the entire browser. If you happen to click on them, remember never to share your details including your credit cards.

  • Verify the tech support call

Legitimate tech support companies don’t just call out of the blues. So if you get the call claiming it’s from your antivirus support, tell them to hold, take this time to verify the number. Most products have their assistance number on the official website or the product packaging.

  • Never give remote access to third parties

If they tell you to download some software to give them access to your computer, stop right there. Unless you have verified, it’s the legitimate support.

Always use a VPN – IPBurger VPN

A VPN protects you against most common privacy and security threats when you are surfing the internet. With strong encryptions, cybercriminals won’t get access to your internet traffic.

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