Tech-support scams are nothing new. But what is new about these scams, however, is how they are evolving and becoming trickier than ever.
The latest tech-support scam claims to be from Apple and it preys on users who need an Apple technician to take a look at their machine via remote assistance.
Affected users will see a pop-up with a virus warning and will be urged to visit a site or call a 1-800 number for remote assistance promising to clean up their computer. Clean out is more like it.
But Apple does indeed offer remote assistance and screen sharing within its official support center, so that's where this one gets tricky.
If you need assistance from Apple technicians, you will use this URL: https://ara.apple.com. The scammers however, got clever with that URL. Once they send you the pop-up notification that your computer is infected, you will be directed to a nearly identical URL: https://ara-apple.com. DO NOT USE THIS ONE. Note how the only difference between the two is a dash instead of a period. Tricky indeed.
But wait. There's more.
So the scammers are obviously very good at deception. They make it very hard to tell the difference between real and fake. Here's an example of a pop-up ad used in the scam. See what red flags you can spot:
If you look closely, there are a few giveaways in the text of the alert. The last sentence simply cuts off. "... and have halted all your system resources in order to prevent any additional dama" ... and that's it. Other suspicious terms used include "malicious adward attack" and "which was being tracked by suspicious connection." Trust me. Apple has a proofreader and is a little bit more professional when it comes to its official communications.
Here's the other dead giveaway: The scammers will direct you to a third-party site like LogMeIn or TeamViewer and download the software that lets them take over your computer. Wouldn't Apple already have the software that would allow them to access your computer? That answer is yes, and you will need a personal and unique session PIN number to even begin the process.
Apple also wouldn't have you contact them with pop-ups about your computer being infected. Nor will they call you directly.
If you are still suspicious, you can always take your gadget into the Apple store itself where you can get help in person.
And as always, Komando.com has plenty of resources to help you spot and avoid all sorts of scams. Click here for the 5 rules to avoid the #1 scam in America.