IT Tech Support Scam: How to Spot and Protect Your Business
Managed IT Services

IT Tech Support Scam: How to Spot and Protect Your Business

As companies increasingly use digital tools for their work, the risk of online scams becomes a bigger concern, threatening the safety and trustworthiness of company data. Among these, Tech Support scam are particularly notorious for tricking companies into compromising their own security and integrity of corporate data.

These scams can lead to serious issues like identity theft and fraud by installing harmful software without permission. Businesses must understand how these scams work and how to prevent them. 

This article is designed with the expertise of Managed IT services providers to help you understand the deceptive nature of these scams, equip you with the necessary knowledge to recognize them, and offer cyber security solutions to fortify your business against such cyber threats.

What is a Technical Support Scam?

A technical support scam is a deceptive practice where fraudsters claim your business faces a computer issue they can resolve. This scam attracts attention through misleading pop-up ads, messages, or fake websites, falsely alerting users to malware infections or other urgent computer problems. The scammers then encourage victims to contact them via a provided contact number for “assistance.

Employing various strategies to appear trustworthy, these individuals might use social engineering tactics or falsely associate themselves with reputable companies. Their ultimate goal is to convince you to grant them remote access to your system, get details about your online banking, or make you pay with a credit card. If someone in your team is fooled, it could lead to big problems for your business. By getting into just one computer, they can spread harmful software across all your systems, steal your customers’ info, or use your credit cards fraudulently.

It is thus imperative for your business to understand these risks and adopt measures to counteract them. Educating your team about support tech scams and fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness to stop data breaches are essential steps in protecting your organization from these sophisticated frauds.

Key Signs to Identify Your System Has Tech Support Scam Malware

If you’re worried your computer might be infected with tech support scam malware, there are several telltale signs to look out for. This checklist can help you determine if malicious software has been installed on your system:

  • Unexpected Redirections: Your web browsing is interrupted by sudden redirects to unfamiliar websites.
  • Inappropriate Ads: You notice ads popping up where they shouldn’t be, such as over web pages where ads are not typically displayed.
  • Web Page Display Issues: Websites you visit do not look right, with formatting appearing broken or content missing.
  • Homepage Tampering: Your browser’s homepage has been changed without your consent, often to a site you don’t recognize.
  • Unsolicited Pop-Ups: Frequent pop-ups alert you to update software you may not even use or have installed, urging immediate action.
  • Unauthorized Installations: New programs or applications you did not download or install may appear on your computer, indicating potential unauthorized access to your system.

If you encounter any of these issues, it’s crucial to investigate further as they are common signs of malware infection, possibly due to a tech support scam. Cleaning your system and enhancing its security can help protect your data and privacy.

Different Types of Tech Support Scams and Prevention Strategies

Different Types of Tech Support Scams and Prevention Strategies

Tech support scams come in various forms, each designed to trick individuals into granting unauthorized computer access. By familiarizing yourself and your team with the most common types of these scams, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to them. 

Here’s a closer look at one of the prevalent scams and how to avoid it:

Computer Protection Scams

How They Work: Scammers often initiate contact by making unsolicited phone calls, posing as tech support specialists from globally recognized companies or reputable local firms. These calls follow a predictable pattern: the scammer claims to have detected a problem with your computer and requests remote access to “fix” it. After conducting a supposed diagnostic test, which is entirely fabricated, they demand payment for their services.

How to Avoid: It’s crucial to remember that legitimate tech support companies do not make unsolicited calls to offer help with your computer. In fact, it’s rare for these companies to initiate contact at all. If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming an issue with your computer, the safest action is to hang up immediately. Always verify the caller’s identity independently if you have any doubts, and never grant remote access to your computer or make payments based on unsolicited calls.

Online Listing Scams

How They Work: To lure unsuspecting individuals, tech support scammers meticulously craft websites that surface prominently in search engine results when people look for tech or IT support services. The goal is to make you believe they are a legitimate service provider, encouraging you to reach out to them. Once contact is established, they seek permission to access your computer remotely. Some scammers go a step further by launching online banner ad campaigns to increase their visibility and appear more credible.

How to Avoid: Vigilance and due diligence are your best defenses against online listing scams. Before engaging with any IT support service you find online, take the time to research the company thoroughly. Look for reviews and testimonials from other users to gauge the legitimacy and quality of the service. Trusted IT support companies usually have a solid online presence, with customer feedback and transparent contact information. Avoid services that lack a verifiable track record or have overwhelmingly negative reviews.

Tech Support Pop-Up Scam

How They Work: A common strategy that tech support scammers uses is pop-up windows and alert messages that suddenly appear on users’ computer screens. These messages are designed to mimic the look of legitimate operating system notifications or antivirus software alerts, often featuring logos copied from well-known companies or reputable websites. To make the alerts seem more urgent and credible, scammers sometimes incorporate sound alerts into these messages, urging users to call a provided phone number for immediate assistance.

How to Avoid: It’s important to recognize that genuine security warnings from your operating system or antivirus program will never ask you to call a phone number. If you encounter a pop-up or alert message that does, it’s a clear sign of a scam. Do not interact with these messages or call any numbers they provide. Instead, close the pop-up window through your task manager (to avoid clicking on anything within the pop-up itself) and run a full system scan using your legitimate antivirus software. Always keep your software and operating system up to date to help prevent vulnerabilities that scammers can exploit. If you’re unsure about a warning, consult with a trusted IT services provider for security solutions.

Phishing Emails Scam

How They Work: This scam involves receiving an email or SMS that falsely alerts you to a virus on your computer or requests an update to your tech support information. These messages cleverly include links that mimic the appearance of a legitimate company’s website, aiming to deceive you into clicking through and compromising your security.

How to Avoid: Guarding against phishing emails or text message scams requires vigilance and a proactive approach:

  • Verify Before Trusting: Always double-check the sender’s details against the official contact information of the company they claim to represent. Legitimate tech support will not contact you out of the blue to report problems or request sensitive information.
  • Spot the Signs: Look for telltale signs of phishing, such as urgent language, spelling errors, or email addresses that don’t match the company’s official domain.
  • Avoid Clicking Links: Do not click on any links within unsolicited emails or texts. If you need to visit the company’s website, enter the URL directly into your browser or use a bookmark you’ve previously created.

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How to Strengthen Your Defense Against Tech Support Scams

How to Strengthen Your Defense Against Tech Support Scams

Tech support scams pose a significant threat to organizations of all sizes, exploiting vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data and systems. However, by adopting a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, you can fortify your organization’s defenses and minimize the risk of falling victim to these scams. 

Here are essential steps to enhance your organization’s security posture:

Update Systems Regularly

Ensure that all systems are running the latest versions of their operating systems and browsers. Regular updates patch security vulnerabilities and enhance system integrity. Train your staff to prioritize updates and understand their importance in maintaining cybersecurity.

Deploy Reputable Antivirus Solutions

Since small to medium-sized businesses are attractive targets for cybercriminals, implementing strong antivirus software is non-negotiable. Ensure your team knows the antivirus solutions you’ve deployed to prevent them from falling for imposters offering fake tech support.

Conduct Regular Security Training

Awareness is your first line of defense. Regular training sessions for your staff on recognizing and handling potential scams are critical. Encourage them to report any unusual contacts or requests to your IT department, which can then take necessary security measures.

Enhance Your Email Security

Emails are a common entry point for scammers. Investing in advanced email security solutions can help filter out phishing attempts, malicious attachments, and other scam-related communications before they reach your employees.

Develop a Comprehensive IT Risk Management Strategy

No defense is impregnable. A detailed risk management plan ensures you’re prepared to deal with security incidents effectively, minimizing their impact on your operations. This plan should be regularly reviewed and updated to adapt to new threats.

Collaborate with a Managed IT Services 

The complexity of cybersecurity can be daunting. Partnering with a managed IT services provider can offer you the expertise needed to navigate these challenges. Look for a provider with a strong background in cybersecurity to help establish and maintain essential security measures, adapting your strategy as your business and the threat landscape evolve.

Trust Layer One Networks to Shield Your Organization from IT Support Scams

In the digital age, tech support scams, and various cybersecurity threats can wreak havoc on your organization’s operations, leading to significant financial and reputational damage. Eliminate the stress and complexity of managing your IT security with Layer One Networks’ managed services. 

We understand the critical importance of robust security measures for your business’s success and peace of mind. Our commitment is to provide unparalleled IT support and strategic solutions tailored for dynamic and agile companies.

By partnering with Layer One Networks, you gain access to a comprehensive array of data security services designed to protect your organization from the ground up. Our offerings include:

  • State-of-the-art antivirus and anti-malware solutions.
  • Advanced email security.
  • Ongoing security awareness training for your team.

Our team of expert engineers is dedicated to supporting your business, offering remote and on-site assistance to address and resolve any IT issues swiftly. This ensures that your organization maintains optimal productivity and security at all times.

Reach out to us and let one of our skilled engineers discuss how we can address your IT challenges and fortify your organization against tech support scams and other cybersecurity threats.