Scam alert: Beware of fake tech support phone calls

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In a famous quote popularly attributed to Ben Franklin, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” But in this era, it might be wise to include in that list the certainty of technical support scams.

For those of us who are security educators, it can feel a bit frustrating that these scams persist: hasn’t everybody that’s going to be targeted by these con artists already been exposed to this? But the fact that scammers are still at it tells me that they’re still making enough money off the unsuspecting public that this continues to be worth their while.

And so, we repeat the warning: there are no technical support departments that will call you out of the blue.

Not your security product vendor, not your hardware manufacturer, not your operating system developer or other software vendors.

This is true regardless of what is going on with your computer or the company.

If someone cold-calls you and says something is wrong with your computer, you do not need to continue the conversation. Do not give any information to the caller. Never allow anyone who cold-calls you to run files on your machine, and never click on any files or links they send you.

Be aware that just because your Caller ID says the call is coming from a familiar company does not mean it really is: this is a trivial thing for scammers to spoof. If you want to verify information that is given to you by a cold-caller, find the company’s contact information with an online search and contact them directly.

If a scammer contacts you or someone you know, there are places to check lists of known scams and to report your experience.

Please keep in mind that scams change frequently. Your experience may be a new twist on this old theme; if your exact scenario isn’t listed in the Scam Alerts, this should serve to underline the importance of documenting and reporting what has occurred.

By the way, ESET North America offers free, U.S.-based technical support to home and business customers. You can find our contact information for tech support and other departments here.