Tip of the Week: Avoiding Scams

Suppose one of your employees sat down at their workstation and was presented with a pop-up telling them that Microsoft has detected a fatal issue with their workstation, and if they don’t let someone remote in to fix it, all of their data will be lost. This could be a serious problem, especially if your employee falls for this scam and lets in a threat.

Tech support scams are not an uncommon thing, blending social engineering and phishing together to deliver the desired result to a scammer. For our tip, we’ll discuss how to identify and avoid these scams and deprive a scammer of that result.

A Global Problem
These scams are an issue all around the world. While the impact is felt the greatest in the United States, China and India, scammers clearly don’t discriminate by region.

However, there’s another layer to the issue of tech support scams.

There’s an intense level of competition in India for employment opportunities, especially among the generation who should now be entering the workforce. For some reference as to how intense this competition is, 2016 saw a state-owned bank receive more than 1.5 million applications for just 1,500 open positions. This makes it not uncommon for many job applicants to be grossly overqualified for the position they’re seeking, recipients of a master’s degree in business administration often applying to be a street sweeper. Naturally, this provides ample motivation for the populace to take any job that presents itself, even if it’s at the expense of another.

Many call centers in India will take full advantage of this, hiring young job seekers through a complicated and secretive process, sometimes not even informing the applicant who they’re actually working for. This process can also cost the applicant a not insignificant sum, as they’re often charged for these interviews and trainings. Once the training is complete, an applicant leaves with a start date.

However, these jobs are often not what’s expected. Instead of working in customer service, these youths are tasked with initiating a scam. They’ll call a target, deliver their “pitch” and transfer the primed caller to a senior scammer who seals the deal. However, despite bad pay for being involved in these scams and the emotional burden placed on them by interacting with their often-helpless and terrified targets, many of these scammers find that scams are one of the few effective ways to make money. As a result, many of these young scammers end up embracing their role, working to get as big a piece of the pie as possible.

Thwarting These Attempts
While those on the other end of the line may not be in a great position themselves, you want to make sure that their efforts to scam you are ultimately wasted. To accomplish this outcome, it’s important to remember a few key warning signs.

  • Don’t call us, we’ll call you: The first thing to remember is if a Microsoft representative suddenly calls you without warning, they probably aren’t actually with Microsoft. You should even take your caller ID with a grain of salt, as that can be spoofed to look official enough to trust.
  • Weak link in the chain: Links are another favorite weapon of scammers, as they can be shared in an email to direct a user to a website filled with fake warning pop-ups. Avoid clicking on these links, and if you’re presented with an alert screen, restart your computer. Scammers will also work to ensure they reach the top results of search engines through sponsored ads to attract those legitimately looking for help. These links should be avoided as well. Google has made serious efforts to not allow scammers to run remote IT support ads, but it hasn’t stopped everything yet.
  • Remain in control: Unless you’re absolutely sure that a third party is trustworthy, never give up control of your computer. Otherwise, you could hand precious data over to a scammer or land yourself in hot water.

The Better Method
Of course, if you enlist the services of Advisors Tech, a fair amount of these points become unlikely, as you’ll have access to an experienced team of trustworthy IT professionals who have your business’s interests at heart. For more information, give us a call at 844.671.6071.