How Mobile Users Can Protect Themselves against Tech Support Scams

Those dreaded Tech Support Scammers are now targeting mobile users.

Tech support scammers are now shifting to mobile users as targets. They have devised new ways to trick users into revealing personal information, hand over control of mobile devices, or worse, computers, and pay for unnecessary software and tech support services. This is the new warning from security experts.

Tech support scams typically involve scammers making unsolicited calls to users and posing as technical support specialists responding to malware infections or other problems allegedly detected on computers and mobile devices. This type of cold-calling scam has become common in recent years, especially in English-speaking countries, and prompted warnings from consumer protection groups, government agencies and security companies.

The scammers use professional and technical language to gain the trust of the mobile user and ask them to download and install remote access programs on their computers. They then connect to those mobile devices and open various system utilities like the Windows event viewer or registry editor to show errors to the user in an attempt to prove their computers have a problem.

The goals of these scams is to get victims to enrol in unnecessary tech support services, trick them into buying useless security software, install malware on their computers, or steal their credit card and personal information.

Tech support scammers have primarily targeted both Windows and Mac OS X users in the past, but it seems they are now expanding towards mobile device and gadgets such as tablets, smartphones, and iPhones.

Sometimes, scammers will take out paid ads on the internet. While paying for ads requires a certain budget, ads have the advantage of funnelling higher quality prospects because people are more trusting of advertisements, thinking scammers would never spend money to get more money.

A very recent example is when a user searched for “Android slow tech support” on a search engine from his Android tablet and the first two sponsored results, which were paid ads, led to sites from supposed companies offering tech support for tablets and smartphones. The user called the toll-free number listed on one of the sites and what followed was clearly a tech support scam.

The alleged support technician asked the mobile Android tablet user to connect his phone to his computer and then install remote access software on the PC so the technician can access the phone. After connecting through the software and browsing through the internal storage of the phone, the technician claimed a malware infection on the PC was actually causing problems on the whole network and affecting the Android phone when using Wi-Fi.

How to protect against tech support scams

If someone claiming to be from a tech support company or from Microsoft or Apple calls you:

  • Do not purchase any software or services for your mobile device.
  • Ask if there is a fee or subscription associated with the “service.” If there is, hang up.
  • Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer.
  • Take the caller’s information down and immediately report it to your local authorities.
  • Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone claiming to be from a tech support team of a well-known company.

So there you have it! Always remember that only you yourself can prevent these scammers. Always stay informed and be vigilant so that you will not become a victim of these scams.


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