Tech support scams are, unfortunately, becoming quite prevalent in all circles of society. They come in many forms, and it can be difficult to keep an eye out for every possible variation of the trick. Even some more experienced users may find themselves falling victim to this type of attack when they drop their guard even briefly, and it’s important to familiarize oneself with how the current market for scammers works, and what they’re typically trying to get out of the users that they attack.
Cold Support Calls Are Often a Scam
If you receive a call from someone claiming to work in the support department of some company, you can pretty much guarantee that it’s a scam if you haven’t initiated any previous contact yourself, such as submitting a help request at their website. Even if you have, still be careful. You don’t know who might be listening in on your e-mails and exploiting the information they obtain there to manipulate you. It happens more often than you might think and it’s a popular attack angle these days.
It may very rarely happen that someone may indeed call you to inform you of an issue with the company’s services, but they should never request any information from you that they should already have in their systems. In general, be wary of anyone claiming to work in a support department when you’re the one receiving the call, and you should in fact ask them some questions about your account that only they will know the answer to, in order to verify their legitimacy.
Never Give Out Any Personal Information
In case you do get such a call and get drawn into it, make sure to keep your guard up. Never reveal anything about your own account or personal details, especially sensitive information like your SSN, credit card numbers, passwords, and so on. No company should ever have a reason to ask you about these things, even if they claim it’s to “verify your identity”.
All identity verification procedures should normally be carried out with scanned and faxed/e-mailed/posted documents, never over the phone. In fact, the main reason companies handle these matters in this way is precisely because it’s a good way to prevent scams. If anyone ever starts making such requests over the phone to you, you should immediately end the conversation and report the number to the company they were pretending to work for.
Be Careful When Calling from Your End Too
Occasionally, scammers might be able to trick you into calling them, thinking that you’re contacting the real support department of a company. This is commonly done through phishing e-mails and other similar forms of contact. If you ever receive a message that something is wrong with your account and you need to call the company to sort the issue out, it’s best that you don’t use the number provided in the message itself. Go directly to the company’s website and call the number you see listed there. If it’s a scam, it will become obvious pretty quickly when they have no idea what you’re talking about.
It’s also a good idea to always verify the identity of the person you’re talking to in these cases, even if you were the one who made the call. Just like we described above, simply ask them some questions which they should realistically know the answer to, and see how they respond. Professional support representatives should have some clearly established routines for handling these types of requests, and if they start fumbling their words, you’ll know that something is not right.