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Explore the latest happenings at Kirtland FCU and learn about important topics from around the financial world. Here’s your insight!
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Tech Support Is Calling…

09/28/2020
Ashleigh, K-Staff


No, they aren’t.

So much of our lives are accessible on our computers and devices. For many older generations, that technology remains a somewhat of a mystery, making them particularly vulnerable to this scam. Tech support scams are extremely popular, and they hit older generations harder than any other type of scam, according to the FTC. Adults over the age of 60, who may be less tech savvy than younger generations, were five times more likely to be a victim of a tech scam in 2018, according to the FTC. In 2018, these scams cost Americans $55 million, and the median loss was $400. Those are numbers are just from reported cases of fraud; untold numbers may have been victims without realizing that the entire interaction was a sham.
 

How it works

The tech support scam begins with a pop-up in a browser or a direct contact via e-mail, text or phone call that informs the target of a problem with their computer or device, similar to the Apple Support scam. The problem is entirely fabricated, and the thief will, at best, attempt to get the target to pay money for the “repair” or for bogus warranties.

At worst, the thief will guide the victim to click links, turn over passwords, and information. Some even get the victim to provide remote desktop access in order to “troubleshoot” the imaginary issue. Once inside the victim’s computer, a thief can quietly install malware, spyware, or log into sensitive websites that have saved passwords. Kevin Mitchell, Security and Fraud Specialist at Kirtland FCU says this scam is common.
 

“It happens every day. Multiple times a day. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve just gotten off the phone, trying to help someone who ran into this scam,”

Mitchell says scammers routinely use fear as a tactic. Bright flashing boxes proclaiming that your phone or computer will soon stop working certainly inspire worry, and many will click as a result.

 

How to protect yourself

Tech support scams work because technology can be confusing, and we’re quick to rely on experts to assist us when we feel out of our depth. To protect yourself from tech scammers, remember:
  • Tech support companies will NEVER reach out to you unsolicited. If you’re having an issue with your computer, your phone, or any other piece of technology, call or visit a reputable merchant or service company to discuss the problem and arrange repair. If you haven’t requested a call, feel free to hang up.
  • Don’t click on pop-ups. Those little boxes that pop up on an internet browser that alert you to a problem are a classic form of this scam. Don’t click and close your browser as a precaution.
  • Don’t believe a logo or the caller ID. Many scammers attempt to impersonate legitimate companies. Just because the caller ID says Apple or the e-mail appears to be from Best Buy doesn’t mean it’s a real communication. Content is key. Is the caller claiming to be able to solve a problem you haven’t detected? Are they asking for money or access to your computer? It’s probably a scam.  
  • Protect your passwords. No tech support company will ever request you provide a password. And don’t turn over access to your computer! If you initiated a service call, tech support may request remote access to help you solve a problem, but you should NEVER grant computer access to anyone you haven’t contacted yourself and trust thoroughly. The best idea is to take your computer in for in-person repairs if you’re having a problem.
  • Beware requests for payment or information. Don’t ever enter credit card information or authorize any type of payment for tech support. Repairs will cost you money, but legitimate companies will provide an estimate for the repair before beginning work and charge you upon completion.
  • Don’t let fear guide you. A sense of urgency is key to this scam succeeding. The more pressed you feel to act, the less likely you’ll make a wise decision. If a caller or a pop up is threatening or urging action, take a breath. Think. And click away or hang up!
Mitchell recalls a story of a woman who had given remote access of her computer over to a scammer. The thief used her saved passwords to break into her Online Banking and start moving money around.
 

“Please don’t save your passwords on your browser,” he urges. “It’s much safer to enter them each time, as much trouble as that can seem. It’s dangerous to leave them out there.”


If you think you may have become a victim of this scam, the best course of action is to immediately disconnect your computer from the internet by shutting off WiFi or unplugging the ethernet cord, says Mitchell. Then, take your computer to a legitimate repair facility to have it checked out and reset if necessary.

Make sure you notify any credit union, financial institution, credit card company, or other business that you may have had access to through your computer. Changing your passwords is a good idea as well.

The tech scam is very common, so always be on the lookout.
 
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