Paradoxically, a polite request is one of the easiest ways to gain access to your computer. Fraudsters can use various pretexts, ranging from solving technical problems to (ironically) conducting an analysis of cyber crime. Learn about the ways they might try and find out why they should never be trusted.
Fake tech support
One day you receive a call from someone who calls you by name and introduces himself as a technical support specialist from a large software company. Apparently, there are serious problems on your computer that should be solved immediately. To do this, you need to install a special program and give the caller access to your system. Is there anything to be afraid of?
At best, such „technical assistance” will carry out some sort of problem-solving activity for which it will charge itself a fortune (there was such a case in India ). After gaining remote access, scammers can install a useless program on your computer and ask you to pay to „fix the problem”.
The customers of the British telecommunications company BT were not so lucky: criminals stole their financial data and then tried to withdraw money from their accounts. Interestingly, in many cases, fraudsters attacked users who really had problems with the connection and reported them to the providers. Sometimes this „technical support” has the victim’s name, address, telephone number and other private information.
It is often enough for the fraudsters to ask for contact themselves instead of calling. For example, they may claim that you need to renew your subscription for some software. To install the update, you must call technical support. In addition, it is also worth remembering about fake websites that you may encounter by accident when looking for a solution to a real problem.
This is the police, please open remote access
Some scammers have even less scruples: they impersonate policemen and ask for help to apprehend cybercriminals. They claim that the computer in question has been used to send fraudulent messages and require access to it and to online banking – allegedly in order to trap fraudsters. If you question their actions, they will threaten you with consequences for obstructing the investigation.
However, if you do give in to pressure and allow scammers to access your computer and online banking, they will completely wipe your bank account. of course, until the end they will argue that in order to catch criminals it is necessary to send money.
We are (not) from the Federal Trade Commission
Fraudsters do not only resort to threats – some offer victims easy income. Last year, they often impersonated the US Federal Trade Commission: its „employees” promised to refund money spent on … fake Advanced Tech Support problem-solving services. It’s not hard to guess what you need to do to get money – of course, allow remote access to your computer.
While there was a stolen money back program in its time , real employees of the Federal Trade Commission never called or demanded access to users' devices. Their operation was limited to sending written instructions to the e-mail address of users on how to submit a refund request.
The FTC did not disclose what exactly the fraudsters were doing when they gained access to the computers under attack. It provides general information on what scammers could be doing: trick users into buying useless items, steal personal data, or install malware on a device.
Who can be safely granted remote access?
Generally speaking, do not grant remote access to anyone. Technical support is usually able to solve almost any problem over the phone or e-mail. The police never „search” computers remotely. Remember: if you are among the suspects, they will visit you in person and have a warrant.
If you initiated contact with technical support and you trust the company, you cannot solve your problem yourself, and remote access is the only option – you can make an exception.
If someone forces you to share your computer, be careful:
- Never listen to scammers or believe their threats – don’t be afraid to say no.
- If you notice any suspicious activity on your computer, scan it with a reliable antivirus in order to locate and neutralize any possible malicious program.
- Write down the phone number from which the call was made and enter it into a Google search: you will probably find information on the Internet that it belongs to criminals. You can also add such a number to the fraud and spam numbers database yourself. This way, you will warn other users in advance about the fraud.