It’s tech security PSA time. A recent story in The New York Times provided fascinating insight into the ongoing evolution and expansion of fake tech support scams. The “classic” routine, where a window pops onto your computer screen offering technical support for a “virus” or other urgent problem you didn’t know about, has not only stayed in circulation—it’s a growth industry.
So, for anyone out there who may be concerned about a pop-up window, chat box, or even a phone call you recently received from someone claiming that your computer has been compromised, take a deep breath and repeat after me.
“Relax. This is a scam. Nothing is wrong with my computer. Customer Support never calls unless you call them first.”
Think about it. Microsoft, Apple—any company who might offer you technical support for your laptop or desktop—has tens of millions of customers. No tech support team has time to search for and review and every potential problem on every individual machine. If you want their help, you have to jump through their hoops: Call tech support, wait on hold for a while, explain that you already restarted your computer. I wish we lived in a world where hardware-makers would just show up whenever you have a problem, but sadly it just isn’t so.
And if a scammer can’t even be bothered to imitate a company who might offer you tech support? That’s a red flag in itself.
If you get one of these messages, the best thing you can do is simply avoid it. You can mark email-based scams as spam and report them to your email provider or your employer’s IT department. Beyond that, the best policy is to delete them, ignore them, or hang up, and move on.