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Security & privacy

This support scam tricks you with a fake antivirus bill

We all can use a little support lately. There’s enough to worry about without pulling your hair out over the tech that currently drives careers, social engagement and education.

When something goes wrong with a device or service, you reach out to customer support. But what do you do if they reach out first, seemingly out of the blue? The truth is it’s most likely a scam. Tap or click here to see how to spot these types of crooked dealings.

Scammers are always looking for ways to target new victims. A recent example is a wave of emails containing false information about renewing antivirus software. We have details on the scam and some tips on what to look out for.

Go phish

Phishing is when a scammer tricks victims into thinking a legitimate brand or company is contacting them. In March, email defense firm Vade Secure filtered a million false emails sent to its users. The messages purported to come from antivirus companies Norton Lifelock, Microsoft and McAfee, Vade told BleepingComputer.

The emails stated that the recipient would be charged hundreds of dollars to renew their antivirus subscription unless they call the included number to cancel. Calling the number will direct the victim to a website, impersonating a brand like Best Buy’s Geek Squad.

From there, they are instructed to download software to stop the subscription. The download actually gives operators remote access to the computer. Once inside your PC, the scammer can ask you to input personal information or snoop around as they please.

Put down that phone

A legitimate company may sometimes ask for remote access as part of tech support, but this will never be related to a refund. Always make sure you are in contact with the actual company before giving any information.

A scammer can impersonate tech support from an operating system, device manufacturer or anything else they can think of. Tap or click here for a recent scam that targets Roku users.

Here are some tips you can use to decrease your risk of getting scammed through email:

  • Don’t panic – An alarming subject line is the first sign of trouble. If it seems to be going out of the way to frighten you, don’t open the email.
  • Verify addresses – If an email seems legitimate, check out the actual address, not just the display name.
  • Avoid clicking links or opening attachments – Don’t click on links or open attachments or call a number from suspicious, unsolicited emails. If you’re in doubt, contact the company directly using information from its official site.
  • Watch for unprofessionalism – Grammatical and spelling errors are huge red flags of malicious emails.

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