How to Avoid Phishing By Phone

Here at Phone Medics + PC, we’re not just committed to repairing your phone or PC when something goes wrong. We want to help you keep your devices running smoothly and keep yourself safe from some of the technology-based threats out there. In our last post, we gave you some tools for identifying email-based phishing scams. Today we’re going to talk about ways to recognize the same kind of scam when it comes via phone call instead of email.

What Phone Scams Look Like

Phishing via phone generally follows the same basic script as phishing via email: a scammer claiming to be from a trusted organization contacts you and says there’s a problem, then tricks you into surrendering sensitive information. The most common format for phishing phone callsis the tech support scam. In the tech support scam, the scammer claims to work for a company like Microsoft or Apple. They tell you that they’ve detected a problem with your computer, and try to convince you to give them remote access to your system so they can fix it.

Once they have access, they’ll usually try to trick you into thinking there’s a problem with your system and offer to fix it if you pay. Sometimes they do that by charging you for software that doesn’t actually do anything. Other times they try to convince you to pay for a worthless “warranty,” or enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance program. They might also charge you to install software that is actually spyware, allowing them to snoop through your data or monitor your browsing and capture login credentials for your online accounts.

How to Know it’s a Scam

Fortunately there are several tell-tale signs that make phishing phone calls like the tech support scam easy to identify. The most important thing to know is that companies like Microsoft and Apple don’t monitor their customers’ computers for malware. Both companies offer plenty of tools to help users keep their computers safe from malware, but they do not actively monitor their user’s systems for signs of malware. They also don’t call customers out of the blue to warn them of problems with their systems or accounts, either. Anyone who cold calls you claiming to be from Microsoft or Apple customer service is lying, plain and simple.

Apart from that, the other major clue that will give scammers away is the fact that they don’t usually know your name. Anyone calling from from a real customer service department would begin by asking for the person they are trying to contact by name. These scammers don’t usually have your name at all – most of the means they use of finding numbers to call don’t attach names to them, which means that most of the time your phone number is literally the only information the scammers actually have about you.

What to Do if You Get Caught

If you’ve been a victim of the tech support scam, there are several things you can do to recover. Most of the steps you’ll need to take if you’ve been a victim of phone-based phishing are the same as the ones you take if you’ve been a victim of email-based phishing. First of all, if you’ve given out financial information like a credit or debit card number, you should immediately contact your bank or credit card company and activate their procedures for dealing with fraud. If unwanted software has been installed on your computer, you can follow the procedures outlined in our post on what to do if you have malware.

At Phone Medics + PC we want to make sure you have the tools you need to protect yourself from scams like phishing. We’re also committed to helping you recover if you’ve been the victim of such a scam. If your computer has been infected with malware and you need help cleaning it up, bring it to our facility at 91 E. Merritt Island Causeway in Merritt Island, where our skilled professionals can get your computer clean and healthy and running smoothly again.