Top 5 computer and phone scams to watch out for

Filed under: Computing Tips,Security - Nov 21 2012

Published November 2012. Updated April 2020:

Please Print This Article Print This Article and keep this list near your computer to remind you of common computer scams that can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to unknowing individuals.

  • Calls from Microsoft. If you get an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from “Microsoft”, “Windows”, “Apple”, “Google”, “Amazon” or any other well-known name, and claiming that there are problems with your computer or account – it’s a scam. The Federal Trade Commission has been cracking down on telemarketers masquerading as major computer companies that scare people with false claims that their computer or security is in danger, and eventually offer to fix the problem for a few hundred dollars. See Avoid Tech Support Phone Scams.
  • Remote support scare tactics lure you into paying to fix non-existent problems. Similar to companies in the scam mentioned above, there are foreign companies that advertise on search web sites such as Yahoo or Google that may help you with your initial problem, but then claim that they detect severe problems with your computer and attempt to coax you into a yearly tech support plan often costing hundreds of dollars. A recent variant of this scam has popped up on compromised websites which displays a warning message claiming that your computer has a severe problem and that you need to call a number displayed on the screen in order to fix it. See Learn how to spot scams that pop-up on your screen and  Companies Pushing Tech Support Yearly Fee.
Search results ads
Deceptive ad links that show up in internet search results – Click to view larger image
  • Unusual/unexpected email from people you know. You may receive an email from someone you know asking for money, asking you to “check out” something on an unfamiliar web site, or asking you to open an unsolicited document. In these cases the email account of the sender has been hacked, and the hacker/scammer is sending emails to all of their contacts in attempt to get money directly via wire transfers, or indirectly via spam schemes. See Email Spam From Someone You Know Links to Websites That Hack Your Password.
  • Unusual/unexpected email from a business. You may receive an email from a business such as UPS, Amazon, United Airlines, Verizon, Apple, Google or PayPal that confirms a large transaction or delivery of an item, or a problem with your account. The email attempts to lure you into clicking a button, link or attachment in the email that would ultimately install malware or a virus on your computer. Others may simply ask you to reply to the email and give your email login credentials, which would ultimately result in a hacker being able to access your email account. See How to Spot Fake Email From Legitimate Companies, and Emails that Phish for Your Login Credentials On The Rise: What You Need To Do To Stay Safe.

If you think you’ve been a victim of a computer scam and need help or advice, please contact Computer Techs at 775-624-6888 or contact your technician.

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