A very dangers scam is making the rounds again, and it’s one that you really need to be aware of. It works something like this:
You receive a phone call from someone who claims to work for either Microsoft or Apple tech support.
The name of the department the caller uses might vary, but he’ll either hint that he works for Microsoft or Apple, or just blatantly come right out and say so.
The problem is, he doesn’t work for either of those companies. He’s actually a scammer out to make a quick buck.
Once he has your confidence, he’ll try to scare you into believing that your PC or Mac is infected with a horrible virus and that only he can remove it using a remote access utility to temporarily take control of your computer.
In another variation of the scam you’re told that there’s a problem with your IP address and you need to grant him access to your PC so he can change it for you.
Whichever pretext the scammer decides to use he’ll request permission to remotely take control your computer. If you agree to grant him that access the scammer will have access to your entire digital life!
At this point the scammer can do a number of things to make money, including:
1 – Steal your personal information and use it to steal your identity (or sell your info to another scammer who’ll steal your identity).
2 – Infect your PC with a real virus or malware, then attempt to extort money from you by telling you that only he can remove it – for a fee.
3 – Use your computer to send a flood of SPAM and/or malware to other computers the world over, in your name.
4 – Encrypt the contents of your hard drive and then blackmail you into paying a ransom to have it decrypted.
5 – All of the above, and more.
As you can see, this is a very dangerous scam that you must never fall for.
Luckily, this is one of the easiest scams to avoid once you learn how to recognize it. And it’s really easy to recognize.
All you have to do is remember that neither Microsoft nor Apple will EVER call you on the phone to let you know that your computer is infected with a virus, that it needs to have its IP address changed or for any other reason. They simply don’t do that. Ever.
First of all, they have no way of knowing whether your computer is infected or not. And second, there are so many computers out there that really are infected that they’d have to hire a massive army of tech support folks just to make all the calls they’d have to make in order to let everyone know.
What’s more, you don’t change your IP address by changing in a setting on your computer. IP addresses are assigned by your Internet Service Provider (aka ISP).
Bottom line: If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft or Apple saying that your computer has a virus, hang up. Don’t respond in any way, simply hang up. If they call back, hang up again.