Computer Scams Are Everywhere!

Warnings like these are scams! Beware!

For whatever reason, I have seen a big increase in the number of my clients who are reporting various tech support scams online. I’ve even had a few who have been called on their home lines from scammers who claim to be from well-known technology companies such as Microsoft. Usually, the scam is the same no matter how it is carried out. You are notified that viruses or malware have been detected on your computer, or that your computer is “not protected”, or some other similar danger and you need to call to have your computer fixed. Usually there are dire warnings about bad things potentially happening to your computer or data and that you should call immediately to have the problem taken care of. Fortunately, most of my clients realized these warnings are scams, but I’ve had several fall for it, at least initially.

Please be aware that these scams exist and do not fall for them. If you see scary warnings of viruses or other problems and you are asked to call a phone number, ignore it. These scammers will usually try to get you to allow them to remote control your computer to “prove” to you that you have issues. Oftentimes, when they take control of your computer, they will create problems themselves so they can remove them later (after you’ve paid a hefty “service” fee, of course). I had one unfortunate client last year who allowed this to happen. When she began to realize she was being scammed, the scammers became belligerent and locked her out of her computer unless she paid a ransom. Luckily I was able to unlock her computer for her, but I almost ran out of options and would have had to completely reformat her computer and reinstall all her software if I had not been successful. These scammers are not interested in helping you, they only want to get your money and/or credit card info.

These scams are often web-based, which means that usually all you need to do to get rid of them is to close your web browser. But sometimes scammers take advantage of quirks in web browser software to make it very difficult to close your browser when their warnings are being displayed. If you run into this situation, call your trusted technology professional to help you out. It is possible that you do actually have some sort of adware that is causing additional pop-ups to display, which may include these scams.

Again, NEVER call a number you are told to call if you see this type of scam. If you receive a call from someone claiming to be a computer company, end the call. Tell them you will call your local computer expert and hang up. The bottom line is to only work with reputable tech support professionals whom you personally know. Do not be frightened by warnings of viruses detected on your computer (especially if you have a Mac, since viruses are so rare, or an iPhone or iPad as there have been no occurrence of malware for those devices) as calling a scammer and letting them take control of your computer would usually be worse than any type of malware. As long as you have a trusted technology professional taking care of your computers and network, they will be able to take care of any real problems you may have.

If you have any questions about these scams or any other technology issue, please feel free to contact me.

Have you personally seen these scams or know anyone who has fallen for one?

  • Pat Osborne

    Friend had this happen on iMac, removing one plist seemed to help. Any other suggestions? THANKS!

  • I’m not certain what happened exactly, but it probably wouldn’t hurt to run this software to make sure there aren’t any annoying adwares on his iMac.

  • Barb

    I get these calls at least twice a month, telling me they were representing Microsoft and that they had been informed of the problems I’d been having. At first I was angry at the scam telling them I didn’t have Microsoft etc., and demanding to take me off their calling list. Now I’ve been having fun with them. Yesterday, I told them we had a bad connection and they would have to call back. When they did, I answered the phone with “FBI, how may I direct your call?” Maybe that will do it.

  • Ha! Let us know if your FBI trick works.

  • Davd

    got that call last week. A very Asian/INDIA accent. I told him I did not have a Microsoft machine… he was insistent. I hung up. He called back!

  • Wow. I’m not surprised they are persistent, given what I’ve seen before, but usually when someone confronts them they will move on to the next victim.

  • Kelly Schrieber

    Yep, we’ve gotten several of these calls. Now it’s become a game to see how much of their time we can waste before THEY hang up 🙂

  • You’re quite mean. But that’s ok 🙂

  • Kelly Schrieber

    Hey well I figure the more time that we waste of theirs, the fewer people they can call to scam. And they’re certainly not going to get anything from me. Heck maybe they will eventually take me off their phone list.

  • Ryan Martinello

    Hey Marcel I just ca me across your post. I did call the number on this pop up. It was a pop up on my wife’s phone claiming to be apple support and it completely blocked her browser from showing anything as the pop up was in front. I called the number obviously oblivious. After she said “you NEED to pay $30 to get it working again,” I immediately felt like that was very direct and I’m professional so I assumed it was a scam and said “no I have apple care so it better be free”. I asked for her employee I.D and she hung up. Can they get anything from me with that 1 minute phone call?? No information was exchanged on the phone.

  • Rob F

    Haha. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing with them too. I take it a bit further and play stupid like, oh can you tell me to go on my computer to find this because I don’t know much about them. Then when they answer I’ll say I’m sorry but I really don’t understand what you mean? Can you explain again. Keep the call going for as long as possible until they get frustrated and hang up. 😊

  • Summer

    I just had this, I never it was a scam. I called them , they asked me for my name, birthday and debt. However I provided them with my name and birthday but didn’t give them the debt. But don’t know if there will be problems. Does anyone know?

  • Laura R Gullett

    Oh no Apple too 🙁 I’ve worked with, and done tech support with hardware/software configurations, etc since even before the DOS days. I really hate seeing people fall for any scammer. I don’t like even legit companies to simply tell me what to do with my computer. I prefer to know what is going on instead, and then to make decisions based on actual data. Yes you can look at data on a hard drive that is not booted up, but simply listed as another drive. We used to use a McAfee boot disk as another option to get into the drive without booting up Windows. It’s really not rocket science as long as one format structure can read the other one.

  • Laura R Gullett

    Love it 🙂 That’s what they deserve.

  • Laura R Gullett

    Now that you did you will always have to keep track on how your name is used out there. Don’t ever do that again and please advise anyone you communicate with to not do it. There are many search services out there and technology will only become more and more advanced. There are millions of scenarios that can happen in life, so you just have to stop and think first as to how whatever you decide to do may, or may not, affect your life or future.

  • No you are fine, there’s nothing they could have gotten from a phone call. FYI, here is an article with more info.

  • Rob F

    Yeah not a good idea. You know how much somone can get with your name and DOB? You probably won’t know the extent of things until it’s too late. Should keep a close eye on all your accounts. JMO

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