I receive phone calls from clients saying they have received a phone call from someone claiming the clients computer is having a problem.
With no exception these have been scams.
How do you know if a tech support phone call is a scam? What should you do when you get a tech support phone call? And, if you let the tech support caller look at your computer, what should you do?
The Federal Trade Commission has an excelent article describing Tech Support Scams, and what to do when you get one. Visit and read the FTC's article at FTC.gov on Tech Support Scams
Scammers are very good at what they do. They know how to get your money. But, scammers have been using the same basic script for over a decade, and they are easy to spot. When I hear a person say they or someone "received a phone call", I know the person has been dealing with a scammer and from that point I can describe the conversation, what the so-called tech support person did, and how much they said it would cost.
One of my regular business clients called me and explained, his wife had "received a phone call" and had let someone work on her home computer. As it turned out the scammer charged a large sum of money to her credit card, and installed unwanted programs on the computer. One of those programs allowed the scammer to monitor what was being done on and access the computer whenever the scammer desired.
When I arrived and started cleaning the computer the scammer actually phoned and asked "what are you doing to the computer?" My client gave me the phone and I explained to the scammer what I was doing to the computer. With that he began to tell me that I was not tech support; that he was the tech support controlling that computer, and I had no right to do anything on HIS computer. I was astonished when he actually begain cursing me because I would not return control of the computer back to him.
There are legitimate uses of remote access, and remote monitoring of computers. Just be sure who you are dealing with.
Another form of tech support scam comes in the form of a popup on your computer screen, or may cover the entire screen.
Again, the warning will tell you there is a problem with your computer but instead of calling you, you will be instructed to call a phone number to receive tech support.
Yes, this is another type of scam.
Sometimes correcting this problem is a simple matter of cleaning the web browser.
Other times this scam may be a sign of additional malware is installed and hiding in your computer.
Do Not call the number! If they installed this malware on your computer, you don't want to call them to provide tech support.