The dangers of tech support scams to your small business

The dangers of tech support scams to your small business

In most businesses, it’s common for staff to come across tech support scams. For example, someone pretending to be from Microsoft may cold call your employee and claim that their computer has a critical problem. The fraudulent tech support personnel may ask for access to the employee’s PC to resolve the issue. Should your staff fall for the bait, it could pose major risks to your business.

What is a tech support scam, and how does it work?

A tech support scam is a type of phone fraud where a scammer claims to offer technical support to unsuspecting users in exchange for money.

Scammers may call users directly and pretend to be technical support representatives of a software company like Microsoft. Or they may display fake error messages or virus detection alerts on typosquatted and infected websites, and prompt users to immediately call a phone number to solve the problem.

The scammers will then ask the user to install a program like TeamViewer, LogMeIn, or GoToMyPC that will give them remote access to the user’s PC. Once connected, they will misrepresent normal system messages as signs of problems and use confusing technical jargon to create a sense of urgency and gain the user’s trust.

To fix the supposed issues and protect the device from future problems, the user will be asked to pay around $500 or more via credit card or gift cards. However, the scammers will only make bogus repairs and ask for more money over time.

Other variations of tech support scams involve scammers asking for personal information or login credentials, or installing malware that steal or damage confidential data.

What are the consequences of tech support scams?

According to a 2018 Microsoft study, 52% of those who experienced a tech support scam spent more time repairing their PCs than those who didn’t. What’s more, over three in four consumers who followed the scammers’ recommended actions suffered from moderate to severe stress.

And with more people working from home today, cybercriminals are taking advantage of the situation to launch more cyberattacks. If one of your employees falls for a tech support scam, your company risks losing money and getting your files stolen. Staff may also suffer a significant productivity drop due to stress.

How to deal with tech support scams?

Inform your employees about the prevalence of tech support scams, and advise them to immediately hang up if they receive a call from someone claiming they've found an issue with their PC. And if they receive tech support emails from companies purporting to be legitimate, employees must remember not to respond or click on any links. Reputable tech companies will never contact individuals directly for any supposed computer issues.

As for tech support scam pop-ups, do not call or email the scammers, and try closing the window. If the window refuses to close, do the following:

  • On Windows PCs:
    Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the Task Manager.
    Under Processes, select the web browser where the pop-up is displayed and click End task.
  • On Macs:
    Press Option+Command+Esc to open the Force Quit Applications window.
    Select the web browser where the pop-up is displayed and click Force Quit.

In case the entire system is unresponsive, call your IT team immediately so they can properly restart the computer.

What do you do if your business falls for a tech support scam?

1. Reverse any charges
If you’ve been charged by a tech support scammer for bogus security solutions, ask your credit card company to reverse any charges. Check your monthly statements often to see if your company is still being charged for bogus services.

2. Change passwords immediately
If a password has been shared with a tech support scammer, change it on every account that uses that password. Make sure to use strong passwords and implement multifactor authentication to ensure that only authorized users can access company accounts.

3. Regularly update your security software
Make sure that your antivirus and anti-malware software are regularly updated, as these programs can prevent malware from compromising your company data. If one of your PCs is infected, immediately disconnect it from your network and run a malware scan.

4. Educate your staff
Educate your staff about the dangers of tech support scams to protect your business from future attacks. Demonstrate how the scam works, and show them the red flags to look out for so your employees know what to do in case they encounter such a scam.

Why fall for a tech support scam when you can partner with a trusted managed IT services provider like INFINIT Consulting? We provide proactive IT management and on-demand support, so you can focus on growing your business. To learn more how we can help you, schedule a meeting with us today.


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