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Security & privacy

Tech support scam targets PC users — Here’s what to look for

When things go wrong with our computers, it’s nice to think that we can rely on professionals to help us out. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Best Buy’s Geek Squad is among the most popular tech support services, making it a ripe target for scammers. Have you received an email from the company? Don’t open it or click any links in the message. Tap or click here to check out a new scam using Geek Squad as a lure.

Scammers don’t just use email to find new victims. They are placing advertisements in Microsoft Edge’s newsfeed to redirect potential victims to tech support scams. Here’s what to watch out for

Scammers are going after Edge

Microsoft Edge is the default browser on Windows. StatCounter lists it as the third most popular browser, after Chrome and Safari. Of course, this means the sharks are circling.

Cybersecurity researchers at Malwarebytes discovered that crooks are inserting ads onto the Edge home page to lure people with shocking and strange stories, complete with clickbait headlines. The scheme has been running for at least two months.

If you click on one of the malicious ads, the code checks for a few things on your computer, such as location and whether or not you’re using a virtual private network. You get sent to a decoy page if you’re not deemed worthy of being scammed. Otherwise, you’re sent to a tech support scam page.

Here’s an example of how the scam works:

Source: Malwarebytes

And here’s an example of the fake tech support page:

Source: Malwarebytes

There’s a phone number to contact “Microsoft Support.” If you call the number, scammers will try to convince you to let them access your computer. Once they’re in, they’ll tell you that you need to pay for their services to fix a problem (which doesn’t exist).

The moral of the story here: Be very careful where you click, and don’t call any tech support numbers without verifying the authenticity.

RELATED: 3 immediate steps to take if you fell for a scam

Protect yourself from these scams

There is an endless trove of scams out there, with more added all the time. Follow these steps to stay safe:

  • Safeguard your information – Never give out personal data if you don’t know the sender of a text or email or can’t verify their identity. Criminals only need your name, email address and telephone number to rip you off.
  • Always use 2FA – Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for better security whenever available. Tap or click here for details on 2FA.
  • Clickbait headlines — Sensational wording in headlines and captions is a red flag. Nothing is “shocking” or “bizarre” enough to take the risk of falling victim to a scam.
  • Avoid links and attachments – Don’t click on links or attachments you receive in unsolicited emails. They could be malicious and infect your device with malware and/or steal sensitive information.
  • Antivirus is vital – Always have a trusted antivirus program updated and running on all your devices. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Right now, get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at That’s over 85% off the regular price!

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