Tech Support Phone Scams Are Getting More Sophisticated

Think phone scams died off along with landlines?  Think again.  Phone scams are still alive and well, if not more so than in years past.  These scammers are now using specific knowledge acquired through hacking and weaving that personal information into their calls to seem more authentic to their victims.  And it’s working.  Phone scam calls are on the rise, and it can be increasingly difficult for unsavvy people to identify them.  These scammers target both individuals as well as businesses and companies.

In addition to the famous IRS phone scam that has been making the rounds in the past few years, there have been an increasing amount of fake “tech support” scams, with criminals posing as tech support agents from popular companies such as Dell and Microsoft.

Tech Support Scammers Use Your Personal Data To Seem Convincing

In one instance a scammer was able to tell their target the last time the target had called Dell customer support, what the issue had been about, and provided their Service Tag Number and Express Service Code.  Clearly that scammer was quite sophisticated.  The person on the receiving end, thankfully, was savvy enough to know that this was in fact a scam.  However, can you be sure that all the employees in your company have the know-how to spot these types of calls?

Scams are one aspect of IT security that can sometimes elude business owners because they’re not always that obvious or talked about.  Employee education of common scams and basic computer security practices is a simple but effective way of preventing not only phone scams but email phishing and other forms of intrusion that happens on an employee-enabled level.

Oftentimes business owners doing all their own IT themselves might fall victim to these sophisticated scams because they simply don’t know the ins and outs of computer security–and that’s ok!  One person can’t be good at everything, and not all business owners can be expected to be computer experts as well.  The same goes for your employees.  If you think that any of your employees might be the type to fall victim to phishing or phone scams, it might be a good idea to educate them.

Hire A Managed IT Service Provider To Avoid Scams

One way to remove yourself and employees from the IT security “chain of command” is to hire a managed IT services company to handle all your IT needs–including security.  That way you’ll know that any random calls or email solicitations received can be forwarded to the IT company.  You can let them handle it from there – a good IT security team can sniff out a scam in seconds.

A good IT security team can also ensure that your entire network is as secure as it can be, is following various AWS security best practices and other cloud security measures, and is up to compliance standards for the industry that your business is in.

Methods Phone Scammers Use

Malicious Computer Access:  Computer access is a big one for these sophisticated scams.  In the above story the “Dell” tech support agent requested the victim to access a website from the command prompt of his computer, which almost certainly would have resulted in some sort of malware intrusion.  If an employee allows one of these phone scammers access to a company computer it could lead to a huge data breach disaster which could be incredibly costly.

Asking You For Money For Phony Or Pirated Software:  Scammers may also pose as big brand tech support agents in order to sell you software, which in some cases may be pirated software or hacked software that does not have a legal license.  One commenter on the above-linked article indicated that he had been upsold thousands of dollars’ worth of Avast security software and other services such as insurance and Windows security.  Avast then contacted him and told him he was using illegal copies of the software.

Having You Enter Payment Information Into Phony Websites:  Scammers may also simply try to get you to enter payment information into fraudulent websites so they can capture and use this data later.

The Most Common Scams In 2017 and 2018

Here are a few of the most common scams currently making the rounds:

  1. “The IRS is filing a lawsuit against you” – This scam uses a computerized voice informing victims that the IRS is filing a lawsuit against them and that local law enforcement will arrest them unless they pay a fine. This one often tricks many immigrants and elderly people.
  2. The “Can you hear me?” or “Say Yes” phone scam – This scam is very, very tricky. The aim is to get the victim to say yes, and scammers will use the recording of that person saying yes to authorize purchases made in the victim’s name.
  3. The tech support or “your computer has a virus” scam – This scam is what much of this article has been about. Scammers inform a victim that there is a virus on their computer or that they are representing tech support from companies such as Dell or Microsoft.  Scammers attempt to gain access to a victim’s computer through directing the victim to malicious websites, or they attempt to acquire financial information.
  4. The “information verification” scam – Scammers will call a victim and pose as an agent from an insurance company, telling the victim that they simply want to verify information on file.

Tips To Avoid Becoming A Victim:

  • Do not trust unsolicited calls. If you need tech support, contact the company yourself.
  • If you receive an unsolicited call that asks you to click links or hand over personal information, hang up. Companies such as Microsoft do not make unsolicited calls to consumers asking for this type of information.
  • Obtain any software that you purchase directly from the vendor website.
  • Hire a managed IT company to help you ensure that all network and computer security is up to current standards and hand off any calls or information to them.

If you think hiring an IT company to manage your network security, AMA Networks might be a great option.  AMA Networks is an IT Security services provider in the San Diego area, helping dozens of businesses ensure that their IT systems are secure and compliant with national industry regulations.  Call for your free assessment today!