Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week: building a digital defense against tech support fraud.
You just received some really cool new gadget under the tree that is supposed to make your life easier—but you can’t even begin to make sense of the instructions, if the device even had such a thing. It’s enough to take the joy out of what’s left of your holiday season.
The fact of the matter is that many of us need help… if not now, then down the road. Here are two scenarios that you need to watch out for. In the first scam, you do an Internet search for help with your device. You see posts or even paid ads that look legit… but aren’t.
In the second scenario, the scam starts with the fraudster contacting you first. You get a message—via email, text, social media post, or even a pop up on your screen—from someone pretending to represent a well-known, reputable tech company. He tells you that some bad actor has already hacked your device, and you need help immediately to deal with some devastating malware that is about to destroy it.
Here’s how to protect yourself:
- If you get a call from someone you don’t know, who says that you have a problem with your computer, hang up. It’s a scam.
- If you get a pop-up message on your screen saying that you have a security issue and need to call a specific number or click on a link for help, ignore it.
- If you have what you think is a problem, try shutting down and restarting first. Sometimes that resolves the problem.
- Make sure all anti-virus and malware software is up-to-date. Set your system to update automatically, and, when in doubt, run a scan yourself to see if there is an infection.
- If you do need tech support, go to a company that you know and trust. You should make the initial contact, preferably in person or by phone, using publicly-available contact information.
- Back up your files and important documents. No system is going to be completely secure. Copy all of your files to an external hard drive or cloud storage. If your computer breaks or is hacked, you will still have access to your files.
Finally, remember that the legitimate tech companies will neither contact you unsolicited to ask for access to your computer nor will they ask for account passwords.
If you have been victimized by a cyber fraud, be sure to file a report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.