Tech Experts Identify 10 Mistakes Scammers Make

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Trusted tech support provider, Bask, outlines common red flags impostors use to fool consumers into paying high amounts or providing personal information, based off a call a real Bask manager made to a suspicious support caller.

Screenshot from a recorded call with a suspicious tech support company.

A Bask manager called a suspicious tech support number and recorded the call, which can be heard at bask.com/support-scams-flags.

We have heard everything from impossible problems like their printer having a virus to very real sounding issues like their computer needs a critical update.

Bask, the leading remote home technical support service, handles hundreds of calls regarding support scams every day. In response to this, the company is issuing an advisory to not just their members, but the general public regarding the rise of technical support scams.

A support scam is an attempt to fool consumers into purchasing either fake, ineffective or infected programs under the assumption it will better their computer or fix nonexistent problems, such as viruses. According to various Bask members, a common scenario is a consumer receives a phone call from an agent claiming to be with tech support, who insists on connecting to the computer and then installs the infected or ineffective software. Consumers are charged for the program or run into problems after the fact and are charged for the company to remove the virus from their own program.

Since October 2015, fraud and scam attacks in the U.S. have risen 42 percent, according to the Consumer Sentinel Network. Electronics make up over 11 percent of those reported scams.

“It is heartbreaking when we hear one of our members have fallen for an impostor tech support company,” said Clancey Dollard, the director of service delivery at Bask. “We have heard everything from impossible problems like their printer having a virus to very real sounding issues like their computer needs a critical update.”

Dollard estimated approximately one third of his staff’s daily call volume involves scams. He recently called a real, suspicious tech support company and recorded the call, which can be viewed on Bask’s YouTube channel or on their website at http://www.bask.com/support-scams-flags.

The phone call gave insight to the process fraudulent tech businesses use to fool consumers. From this, along with testimonials from their members, Bask outlined 10 red flags to look for during a conversation with a scammer:

  • Avoids clarifying company, or uses a large, well-known brand name - If the only introduction the caller provides is they are from ‘tech support,’ be wary. A scam company may also pose as a widely known brand, such as Microsoft or Windows, but these brands do not make unsolicited outbound support calls.
  • Avoids providing own name or office location - A consumer should ask for the official website and full mailing address for the company, then use Google Maps street view to see if it matches up.
  • Changes stories mid-call - Because fraud support companies avoid providing or verifying details, the agent may switch between stories or mix-up facts.
  • Lists generic devices - The support agent may list generic devices most homes have, such as a computer and printer, but cannot specify the exact model or brand of a consumer’s devices. This is because they are cold-calling consumers rather than an actual member base so they do not have real data.
  • Claims they are receiving ‘messages’ or alerts from the device - This is one of the most common scam methods Bask members report. The caller states the consumer’s computer or printer is sending them ‘signals,’ without actually being connected to the device.
  • Unable to explain reasons issues exist or how the issue occurred - Because they are not actually connected to the computer, fraud support companies do not actually receive data or alerts from the consumer’s device, meaning the caller cannot provide an explanation to the how or why. They will often use buzzwords, like server or database, to try to confuse or overwhelm the consumer.
  • Invents unrealistic technical issues - Scammers assume the consumer does not understand what is a real threat so they will claim the device has impossible problems. Two common lies are the computer has thousands of viruses, which is highly unlikely since just one virus alone can cause a computer to crash, and that the consumer’s printer has a virus, which is impossible since printers do not store memory, thus, cannot store any malicious threats.
  • Insists on connecting without a full explanation or diagnosis - The goal of scam companies is to fool consumers into spending money unnecessarily. They will push to remotely connect to the computer, then install programs that either are ineffective or infected with malicious spyware or worse. They then charge anywhere between $5 and $500, or more, for the software. Later, once the consumer has realized their computer’s performance has changed drastically, they will charge additional fees to remove the threats from their own software.
  • Uses an unorthodox method of payment - The scariest part of support scams are many fraud companies have realized banks can identify and dispute the charges on behalf of the consumer. Now, they attempt to convince the consumer to either purchase gift cards and provide the card number, or to wire payment through a money transfer service such as Western Union. Another method is once connected to a computer, they will ask the user to log into their bank account and transfer money directly to the company. Legitimate companies will never request unsecured methods of payment.
  • Abruptly ends the call - Fraudulent support callers want the quickest or easiest catch. If a consumer presses for information, the caller will often give up and move on to the next target.

Bask technology advisors encourage any users who have allowed an unknown technician to connect to their computer to call (866) 515-4865 for a diagnostic at no charge to the public. They will determine if the consumer has been targeted by a support scam and provide next-step advice for reporting the call, disputing the charge, and scanning and protecting the computer.

About Bask Technology, Inc.
Bask offers more than technical support, they provide people support. The company empowers its members to embrace new technology and stay protected from threats to their privacy and personal data by combining top-rated software with advice and solutions from an all U.S.-based team of Technology Advisors. Bask provides assistance when people need it, for any device, in everyday language. For more information, please visit http://www.bask.com.

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Kayla Benson
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since: 08/2011
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