Woman looking at computer in shock

How to Protect Yourself From Tech Support Scams

March 27, 2024
Michelle HackerBy Michelle Hacker
Director of Digital Services

Imagine this: you're cruising the web, minding your own business, when suddenly a giant red warning pops up on your screen. It screams about a horrible virus infecting your computer and gives you a number to call for a superhero tech whiz to save the day. Or, a flashy pop-up offers a “free scan” to fix your device.

Here's the catch: that warning or the “free scan” is a total fake! You could end up calling someone who pretends to fight the non-existent virus, but instead charges you hundreds of dollars to “fix” a problem that isn’t even real.

Example of a Tech Support Scam

Never click or call the number on a "pop-up" window that looks like this:

Tech Support Scam Example
Source: YourWindowsGuide.com

Unless you have made prior arrangements, Microsoft, Apple or any other IT company will not call you out of the blue or send a random pop-up to your device to fix a problem. 

But wait, it gets even crazier. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned recently that some tech support scammers are starting to level up their game.

New Technique: Tech Support Impostor Scams

Now instead of pretending to be a tech support company, tech scammers are switching tactics.  They will pose as a “tech professional” from the government or your bank and hit you with a warning claiming someone hacked your bank account, investment portfolio, or even your retirement savings. They'll pressure you to call a number for "immediate help."

Here's the twist: on the other end might be another scammer pretending to be from a trusted source, like the FBI or your bank's fraud department. They'll claim the only way to save your money is to transfer it to a "secure" new account. Big red flag! That account is actually controlled by the scammer, who will steal your money in a flash.

How to Avoid Tech Support Scams:

According to the FTC, here are the best ways to avoid falling victim to a tech support scam:

  • Never call a number on a security pop-up warning. Pop-ups that tell you to call tech support are always scams.
  • Never move or transfer your money to “protect it.” Only a scammer will tell you to do that.
  • Never give someone a verification code to log in to your account. Scammers want it to get into your account.
  • Contact your real bank if you’re worried. And use a phone number you know is real. Any legitimate company has its real support number listed on its official website.

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About the Author

Michelle Hacker

Michelle Hacker is the Digital Services Officer at Security National Bank, overseeing all personal and business digital platforms for customers. She is a graduate of Iowa State University and has nearly a decade of experience in the technology and financial service field.