Caller: “Hi. This is [big-name software company]. We’ve detected a virus on your computer.”
A) Listen closely and follow the caller’s step-by-step instructions
B) Hang up immediately?
The correct answer is B. If you get a call, pop-up, email or any other urgent message about a virus on your computer, do not follow along. Reputable software companies will not call you or display pop-ups asking you to call a toll-free number about viruses or security issues. If you do, the person on the other line isn’t there to help you – he or she is there to steal your information or money.
Follow these tips to avoid falling victim to a tech support scam:
- If you get a direct call from Microsoft, Apple or anyone else claiming to be tech support, hang up right away. Reputable software companies will never call you.
- If you receive a pop-up asking you to call in for tech support, ignore it. Your computer’s security software will also routinely send you pop-up messages; however, they will not be displayed within your computer’s Internet browser. Your computer’s security software will never ask you to call a phone number.
- Never share your private information with someone online or over the phone, and never allow someone to have control over your computer.
If you think you were scammed:
- If you paid for or gave your financial information to someone, contact your bank or credit card company right away. They can assist in returning any money, replacing compromised card or account numbers and pursuing financial investigations.
- If you shared a password with someone, change it right away – on every account that uses that password. (See tips on creating strong passwords.)
- Clean your computer. Update your computer’s security software and run a scan. Be sure to delete anything the software indicates as a problem. You may also take your computer to a professional to be reviewed as well.
You can also report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) using the FTC Complaint Assistant.