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Technical support scams are the new face of organized cybercrime in 2016. In the past, scammers used to call random people and try to convince them to fix, protect or clean their computers from non-existent problems by purchasing certain services or products. Nowadays, scammers have underground offices and work at full capacity, usually replying to phone calls from people who encounter deceptive pop-ups or visit phishing websites that provide false information about the computer and its safety. Scammers now concentrate on developing programs that display warning messages, cause redirections to phishing websites that look like Microsoft’s Support page, or even ransomware-type screenlockers that block access to the computer and ask the victim to enter Windows Activation Key or purchase new Windows license because the current one has ostensibly “expired.”

Now, here’s the most important question. How to spot a tech support scam? These scammers use a lot of various techniques to deceive even experienced users and convince them to reveal credit card details or provide remote access to the computer. However, it is not easy to identify an attempt to scam you, because frauds tend to craft professionally-looking phishing websites, copy each image, logo, and button from original ones, and politely invite victims to contact tech support for help. We would like to explain how you can identify tech support scams.

  • The main hint that someone is trying to scam you is the infamous line “Call Tech Support At [number] (Toll-Free).” So if you encounter a pop-up, a website, or a computer-blocking screen that says you must call technical support for help, don’t rush to dial that number.
  • Second advice is to inspect the addresses of sites you’re visiting carefully. Typically, phishing websites have suspicious-looking URLs, such as call-helpline-microsoftsupport-24×7-microsoft-certified.club/us.html, computer-security-check.com/error.message/ and so on. So if your browser ever redirects you to a shady site that says your computer is compromised and filled with Trojans and similar viruses, run a system scan with anti-malware software and see what it detects. Most likely it will detect technical support scam virus, which causes such suspicious redirections to phishing websites.
  • Also, never call “toll-free” numbers that appear on “Product key” activation windows, asking you to verify your “Windows Product Key.” If such deceptive program appears on your computer screen and blocks access to the computer, it means that you have accidentally installed a malicious program that is meant to scare you and talk you into calling tech support scams.
  • Finally, rely on common sense. Never rush to click on suspicious links, call unknown numbers, or trust people no matter who they claim to be. For more information about tech support scam viruses, visit this page.