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Watch out! Tech support scams exploiting worldwide ransomware scare

It’s been less than two weeks since WannaCry ransomware started creating havoc all over the globe. It infected hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries in a very short period of time. This ransomware campaign was especially scary in the way that it spread.

Victims didn’t need to click on a malicious link like a typical ransomware attack, instead, it was deployed like a worm. Yikes! Unfortunately, WannaCry isn’t done tormenting us yet, as scammers are now taking advantage of fears brought on by the nasty ransomware.

How scammers are still exploiting WannaCry ransomware

Scammers have started sending out fake tech-support warnings, piggybacking on fears from WannaCry. How the scam works is, victims see a pop-up warning on their computer that’s supposedly from Microsoft tech-support. The pop-up message claims that the user’s gadget has been infected with WannaCry ransomware.

The message also contains a phony tech-support telephone number that the victim is supposed to call for help. Once the victim calls the fake number, they are asked to give the criminal on the line remote access to their computer.

Once the criminal is granted remote access, they install the free Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool onto the victims’ computer. The victim is then charged around $400 for the “service.”

Warning, if you see this pop-up do NOT call the number on the message, it’s a scam!

Police say there have been several reports of people already falling for this scam. Here is a statement issued by law enforcement on this scam:

“It is important to remember that Microsoft’s error and warning messages on your PC will never include a phone number. Microsoft will never pro-actively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication they have with you must be initiated by you.”

How to get rid of a fraudulent tech-support pop-up message

If you see this fake tech-support message pop-up on your computer, you now know not to fall for the scam and call the phone number. However, people are having trouble getting the warning message off their PC. Once the message appears it won’t close.

It’s actually a simple process to close one of these messages. Here is what you need to do:

  • Click on the Windows search box in the lower-left corner
  • Search for Task Manager
  • Open Task Manager
  • Right-click on the browser you have open listed under the Processes tab and click End – If you have multiple tabs open, repeat this step for each tab

Also, here are some suggestions from police on how to protect yourself:

  • Don’t call numbers from pop-up messages.
  • Never allow remote access to your computer.
  • Always be wary of unsolicited calls. If you’re unsure of a caller’s identity, hang up.
  • Never divulge passwords or PIN codes.
  • Microsoft or someone on their behalf will never call you.

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