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Security & privacy

New spin on fake customer support call puts your data at risk

Most tech-savvy people are familiar with the fake tech support scams that have been going around for years. Usually, a fraudulent warning would pop up on your computer screen, instructing you to call a number to have malware removed.

On the other end of the call, the scammer will try to remotely access your computer to either steal your personal information or banking details. Tap or click here to see a recent example that was making the rounds.

It seems thieves are changing tactics in their delivery methods. Cybercriminals have added a new twist to the tech support scheme that makes it easier to trick victims. Let’s take a look at how it works.

Here’s the backstory

The scam works by sending fake subscription emails to potential victims. The emails usually involve some bogus trial period about to expire or inform you that you are about to be billed for a service.

The right thing to do would be to delete the email and block the sender, but curiosity can sometimes get the better of people. The email contains a number that you can call if you want to cancel your supposed service or stop being billed for a service you never signed up for.

If you call the number, a “support technician” will listen to your concerns regarding the message and ask for the customer ID number cited in the email.

How the fake email works

Things get a bit tricky from here. If you give them a customer ID number, the scammer will instruct you to visit a specific website to fill in cancellation forms. In some instances, the crook will say that you need to digitally cancel the subscription through the site because it involves medical services.

The problem is that the website they ask you to visit is completely fake. Reports suggest that there are as many as five different sites, and all are professionally designed.

If red flags haven’t gone off yet, the next step would surely indicate that a scam is afoot. The huckster will stay on the line while directing you to “sign up” on the website. Once that is done, they insist that you download a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or Word document to “sign.”

Once you open the document, your computer will be infected with malware. It’s a really nasty piece of malware as well. It installs more malware the longer it sits on your computer.

How to stay safe

Common sense is the biggest tool that you have in fighting off cybercriminals and scammers. But some scams are so sophisticated that they can be difficult to detect.

Here are some tips in staying safe:

  • Beware of phishing attempts – Never click on links in emails or texts from unknown senders. They could be malicious phishing attacks.
  • Don’t take the bait – If you haven’t signed up for a service, don’t believe messages claiming your subscription is about to expire. It’s a scam.
  • Never reply to unsolicited messages – If you receive an email or text from a company you do business with, don’t reply. Instead, go to the company’s official site.
  • Stay away from attachments – Never open attachments from unknown senders. They could be malicious and infect your device with malware.
  • Have great antivirus software – And make sure that it’s up to date. Tap or click here for the best antivirus options for PC and Mac.

If you are actually having issues with your computer, use a service you know you can trust. We recommend our sponsor, Solve iQ. Kim loves Solve iQ, which provides you with around-the-clock help from a team of experts.

When you need someone patient and knowledgeable at your side, call up the folks at Solve iQ. For just $9.99 a month, you can download Solve iQ to experience a range of time-saving features and so much more. Similar services cost over $300 a year, so this is a deal you don’t want to miss out on.

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