Have you been scammed?
Have you fallen victim to a PC support scam? Did you get a message on your screen urgently telling you to call the number on your screen, or you receive a call from someone claiming to be from Windows Support telling you your computer is sending out SPAM, or errors or possibly reporting a virus?
During the call, you get the feeling that something doesn’t seem right, but the person on the other end sounds polite and extremely eager to help you with your problem. In order to prove their case they will ask you to open your Windows Event Viewer and download TeamViewer or some other remote desktop control software so that they can connect to your computer to show you the errors and “fix” your problem. They will also ask for your credit card information so they can charge a small fee for their service.
If any of this sounds familiar, you have been victimized by the PC Support Scam, also known as the Ammyy Scam, Fake Microsoft Support Scam, TeamViewer Scam, or Tech Support Scam. The names may change, but these scams have been going on for years and have swindled millions of trusting people.
What do you do now?
The first step is to call your bank or credit card company as soon as possible. They more than likely have experience with scams and will be able to tell you what they can do about the fraudulent charges and adding a security alert on your account. If they do not offer to issue a new card to you, you should request one.
Once the charges are taken care of, the next step is taking care of your computer. It is critical to isolate your computer, especially if they successfully took control of your computer system. Turn off your computer. Or, at least physically disconnect your computer system from the Internet. Although you are no longer on the phone with them, the remote desktop control software may still be providing them with access to your computer. As well, they could install viruses or malware that that could harm your computer, cause data loss, or provide them ongoing access to your computer.
Then, you should engage the services of a reputable and skilled computer support company to remove any and all traces of malware and viruses. This may require the backing up all of your data and re-installing the computer’s operating system, or performing a complete system restore operation. When someone takes full control of your computer system, there is no limit to what they can do. You want to make certain that there was nothing left behind to cause you problems later on.
Once your computer has been restored, be sure to change your passwords. You may want to sign up for identity theft or credit monitoring protection so you will be alerted as soon as anyone tries to your financial or personal information.
Education is key to protecting yourself from scams. Learn from your mistakes because you can bet that the scammers are learning from theirs. They are constantly changing tactics, refining what works and discarding what doesn’t. Unfortunately, these scammers stay in business because we fall victim to the scams.
The PC or Microsoft Support scam has fooled many people because we tend to believe what we see. Typically your caller ID will read Microsoft support or something to that effect. What many people don’t know is that scammers will trick you by using ”spoof” caller ID information which lends credibility.
The scammer will log into the spoofing service provider site. They will enter the phone number of the intended victim and give the fake or spoof information that they want to show up as the caller ID. The victim sees the fake caller ID believing it is real and they are now connected to the scammer.
It is illegal to falsify caller ID information, so if you believe a caller is trying to scam you and they have spoofed the caller ID, you can report it to the Federal Communications Commission. Do not give your credit card information to someone who has called you that you do not know. If you are unsure of the person on the other end of the line, get a call back number then look it up to see if they are legitimate or if the number is associated with a known scam.
Arm yourself with knowledge.