Did you ever get unsolicited calls, SMS, WhatsApp messages and more from people who claimed they could fix your devices for a nominal charge? Most people have received such offers. Did you manage to say no, or did you get entangled in the intricate web of their fake claims? Well, people are so dependent on their gadgets these days that they will willingly listen and agree to provide access to their gadgets to complete strangers in order to fix some problem or to get an extra benefit.
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However, beware! These are nothing but tech support scams! These have become an industry-wide issue where scammers trick people into accepting unnecessary support services to fix problems on their devices that may not even exist.
Price to pay
Users should know that there may well be a terrible price to pay. At best the scammers are trying to get you to pay them to "fix" a nonexistent problem with your device or software and at worst they're trying to steal your personal or financial information. Once you lose your money, the likelihood of getting it back is negligible.
The tech support scam is quite widespread and it is getting worse as more and more people are taking to the digital world during the pandemic. Since they do not know too much about their devices, they are being duped by these cyber crooks. Research shows that consumers in India experienced a relatively high scam encounter rate of 69% between January 2020 to May 2021.
What is horrifying is that, nearly half the consumers surveyed were tricked into continuing with the scam and 31% of those who continued with scam interactions lost money in 2021, a 17-point increase from 2018, reveals Microsoft’s 2021 Global Tech Support Scam Research report.
What to do if you have fallen victim
Those who have fallen victim to the tech support scam must immediately uninstall any apps the scammers asked you to install. Then run a security scan, reset your device and change your passwords. Those who have already lost money must call their bank quickly.
5 ways to save yourself from tech support scam:
1. Do not click on unsolicited tech support calls, messages
Service providers or companies never make unsolicited phone calls for tech support. If you didn’t reach out for tech support, they won’t call you to offer tech support. Beware, scammers often fake Caller ID too.
2. Urgent call-to-action pop-ups must be shunned
Error messages received from legitimate tech firms never include phone numbers.
3. Asked to pay cryptocurrency or gift cards?
If you’ve requested tech support, they’ll tell you ahead of time if there’s going to be a fee, and that fee will never be in the form of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or gift cards.
4. Do not download illegal apps
Never download software from a third-party website or a link in an e-mail. Download software only from official websites, authorized partners, or digital distribution platforms like the Microsoft Store. On your mobile devices, only download from the official app stores like Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
5. Do not provide personal information
Legitimate tech support will never ask for your password, Aadhaar card number, or other personal data.