Over the last few years, the number of technical support scams has been increasing. There have been over 11,000 tech-support fraud complaints across over 80 countries in 2017 with claimed losses totalling nearly $15m. The fraudsters use the same trick: they search for random telephone numbers in the phone directory book and call the number. They claim to be a representative of a well-known software company, such as Microsoft or Apple, to gain more trust from the call receiver. Then they tell the call recipient that his or her computer has been hacked or infected by a virus. In order to fix the computer problem and prevent the virus from damaging the computer any further, they offer “assistance”. If the user agrees, they would give some instructions that must be followed systematically. In some cases, the scammers ask the users to visit certain websites and enter personal data there. Some fraudsters could also use a hacking program to display a pop-up window on the user’s computer, in order to ensure the user that some viruses had indeed infected the computer. In the end, they would either try to steal personal bank data through the given access or charge the user for the costs of fixing the non-existent computer issue.
The victims have reported this type of fraud at tellows.co.uk, the platform for searching unknown phone numbers and reporting unwanted calls. Based on the users’ reports, most of the scammers claim to call from Microsoft. Microsoft itself has warned its users of this fraud and emphasized that Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help fix any computer problems.
To prevent becoming a victim of a technical support scam, users should hang up immediately if they receive any call claiming to fix computer issues. Users can also search for the phone number’s trustworthiness by checking further information on phone number reverse search platforms such as tellows.co.uk. Most fraudsters make calls to many random numbers and some victims have reported the acts on this platform. Therefore, any information about the scammer can help the users to prevent getting scammed.