Are you an avid online shopper? Do you love to search for information on the Internet? Do you click on links that people share with you via email or Facebook? If you’re like most people, you use the Internet for more than just checking the weather. So you’re probably going to run into a tech support scam.
What is a tech support scam?
Simply put, it’s an attempt to convince you that you need to call a phone number for technical support so they can assist you in “fixing” whatever’s wrong with your computer. Sometimes the notice will say your computer has a virus. Or the notice might say your Internet connection is running slow.
And what does this notice look like? Usually, it’s a large box on the screen that looks something like this:
These notices are designed this way to instill fear in you, the computer user.
How does it work?
Typically, while searching for something of interest in Google, one of two things can happen that will cause you to encounter a tech support scam. 1) You click on a link in a Google search results list, which takes you to a legitimate website, and then you accidentally click on a link within that website which then causes the tech support scam to appear on the screen. Or 2) you accidentally click on a suspicious link in the Google search results list.
Another way this could happen is when you accidentally type in search terms incorrectly, such as misspelling the name of a company you’re looking for. The mistyped terms lead you to a website that isn’t what you were looking for.
What should you look for?
While searching the Internet, be aware of two things: 1) misspelled or suspicious website addresses in Google searches, and 2) ads placed within web pages.
Misspelled website addresses could have an incorrect extension, such as websites that appear to be government sites, but the extension on the link is “.com” instead of “.gov” or “.com” instead of “.edu” for educational websites. Many a computer user has ended up facing a tech support scam simply because they clicked on a link that contained the correct name, but included the wrong extension for the website.
A lot of ads are placed within a web page that have nothing to do with the web page itself. This can be highly confusing and if you click on an ad, you might end up staring at a tech support scam. Here’s an example that was found on a page listing men’s parkas at one of the big box stores:
This is a perfectly legitimate ad, even though it had nothing to do with men’s parkas. However, some ads can lead you to a tech support scam.
How can you protect yourself?
- Study the website links in your Google searches. READ before you click. Is the extension on the link correct? Is the website name in the link spelled correctly? Is the website from a foreign country?
- Once you’re on a website, look carefully at the ads, especially those placed between paragraphs in an article. Always look for the notification, usually found in the upper right corner, which says “advertisement” or “AdSense.”
- Beware of anything that looks suspicious. If it looks suspicious to you, then don’t click on it!
Above all else, if you find yourself staring at a warning message on your computer screen, DON’T call the number! Seek help from trusted professionals like the technicians at LCC Computers. Large corporations like Microsoft will not call you, and they will not reach out to help you with a virus problem. They’re not monitoring your computer across the Internet. Any message on your screen that says something has been detected on your computer is a scam. So protect yourself: DON’T call!