Computers can be difficult to figure out when something goes wrong. Unless you know your way around the Device Manager or system settings, an error message can make you run for the hills. It gets even worse when it’s an accessory like a printer.
The instruction manual for printers often isn’t constructive when figuring out paper jams or not Wi-Fi connections. As a last resort, many users turn to the internet for answers.
But if you aren’t careful, scammers are waiting for you. Read on to see how fake support websites can steal your money.
Here’s the backstory
Installing a new printer should be a simple task. You connect the printer to the computer through Wi-Fi or a cable and install the driver software. Once complete, you should be able to print to your heart’s content.
That isn’t always the case. If you can’t find the correct drivers, you might navigate to a website with a complete library. But many unofficial websites that host printer drivers are operated by scammers.
Through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, Gizmodo discovered that users had lodged almost 30 complaints against printer maker Canon. The company isn’t to blame, but rather the scammers running fake sites that claim to make Canon drivers available.
According to Gizmodo, the downloads of unsuspecting users would fail, and a helpful chatbox would appear to offer help. While the tactics vary, some scammers ask for payment to help, while others request remote access to “fix” the problem.
Unfortunately, help isn’t on the way when you land on one of these spoofed sites. If you send payment, your money is gone forever.
What you can do about it
You must take extreme caution when looking for software and drivers online. It can be challenging to spot a fake site, but there are signs. These scam sites use a variation of Canon’s name, but the only authentic place to get software and drivers is on Canon’s official support page.
More things to watch for are spelling or grammar issues, inconsistent fonts or outdated images.
By visiting a fake page, a user was scammed out of nearly $500. The helpline consultant said there were viruses on the computer and “would give me tech support instead of McAfee for a one-time fee of $499.”
In an ironic twist, one of the websites that wanted to access a user’s computer remotely has a disclaimer at the bottom that reads in part: “We are not Canon Inc, hence, you should not share your details registered at Canon Inc. with us.”
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