5 Signs You’re Dealing with an IT Support Scammer

Published
Beware of IT Support Scammers

Executive Summary

  • Did you know that 36 million Brits were targeted by scammers in the first half of 2021 alone? That’s almost half the population, which goes to show how much of an issue scams are becoming.
  • If you’re a business owner, manager, or someone who wants their team to stay on the right side of the many IT support scams out there, this article is for you.
  • We’ve compiled a list of 5 tell-tale signs that you’re in conversation with an IT support scammer, in the hopes you (and your team) can nip potential crimes in the bud before they happen.

Introduction

In a previous post here on the Get Support blog, we explored the most common IT support scams that you might come across as a UK business.

In that post, we covered all the bases on the various types of scams active in the UK right now. What we didn’t cover, however, is how you can actually tell if you’re dealing with a scammer of this kind – especially when you’re on the phone.

Some of these signs will be obvious, some not so much, but it can be particularly difficult to discern when combined with the social engineering tactics these IT support scammers so often deploy.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 5 tell-tale signs you should be on the lookout for next time you have an inkling someone might be trying to pull a tech support fast one on your business.

Sign #1: You’re being hurried into making quick decisions

IT support scammers rely on a few different things, one of which is the naivety of their marked target. If they’re on the phone to you or a member of your staff, they know that the longer they’re on the phone, the more suspicious you’re likely to become.

Because of this, IT support scammers will often try to hurry their targets through a curated script which doesn’t encourage a lot of questions. In addition, they’ll often do things such as asking the user to open up Event Viewer on a Windows PC to see all the errors in the log. Their secret? Every PC has a growing list of errors in the Event Viewer – it’s all part of the scam.

Sign #2: They claim to be calling from a reputable company, but their details don’t check out

One of the most common cold-call IT support scam techniques is to tell the target that they’re calling from a reputable company like Microsoft, Dell, Apple, or another well-known tech company. The problem, of course, is that most of these companies never cold-call their users. Microsoft openly explains this on their website with the line, “We do not make these kinds of calls”.

So, if you receive a call from someone claiming to be from a specific company, be sure to ask them to clarify:

  • Their name
  • Where in the world they’re calling from
  • Their telephone number

If any of this info doesn’t match — or you simply have a bad feeling about the call – hang up and don’t answer if they call back. From there, look up their real number and call them back on it – you’ll soon know if the initial call was legitimate or not.

Sign #3: They don’t want you to call them back on an official number

In addition to the quick checks we outlined above, you can also identify an IT support scammer by applying a little pressure. To do this, simply state that you’re not comfortable talking to a cold caller and that you will instead call them back on their official customer support line.

So, if the scammer is claiming to be a tech support agent from Microsoft Windows, just tell them you’ll call their customer support line directly. This advice applies not only to business scammers, but any telephone scammer out there, but if they put up any resistance at all to this idea, hang up immediately.

Any legitimate company will always allow you to call them back for your own security. A scammer, on the other hand, will come up with a million reasons for you not to do that. No matter how convincing they sound, don’t listen – hang up, and if you’re still concerned it’s real, call their support line directly.

Sign #4: They want you to install software on your computer

One of the ways that IT support scammers carry out the sorts of crimes they commit is by having their target install software which is either a.) spyware in itself, or b.) designed to report false positives regarding viruses. In both cases, the IT support scammer gets what they want, because they can convince the person on the phone that their computer has been compromised. In fact, at that point, they’re kind of right.

That’s why it’s essential that you never install any piece of software provided by a cold-caller – especially not if they’re trying to install it themselves via a Remote Desktop Connection or an app like TeamViewer.

Again, legitimate companies like Microsoft do not operate like this, and any software they’d even suggest you install would always come directly from the official Microsoft website, as opposed to being provided by them via a download link or remote sharing session. 

Sign #5: They become angry or frustrated when you ask questions

Finally, one of the simplest ways to expose an IT support scammer is to simply… waste their time. That’s right: unlike genuine IT support technicians, whose job it is to be patient with the customer until their problem is solved, scammers are really interested in getting their scam done and moving on to the next victim.

That’s why it’s in your interest, if you’re sure you’re dealing with a scammer, to waste as much of their time as possible. Start to ask questions about who they are, where they live, how they have your details, why they’re asking you to do these things, and so on. Not only will they try to deflect all of your questions, they’ll also start to get frustrated as they fail to make progress on their scam. Eventually, some of them will simply drop the act and hang up on you – and to us, that’s a win.

Don’t forget, if you think you’ve been the victim of an IT support scammer, be sure to report it via ActionFraud.

Need an IT support provider who can help beat the scammers?

At Get Support, we’ve spent over two decades working with small businesses across the UK. In that time, we’ve seen countless IT support scams come and go, and we know exactly what it takes to both prevent such attacks and help teams understand how to prevent falling prey to them.

So, whether you’d like to know more about our IT support agreements, or you’re looking for expert advice on avoiding tech support scams, we’re here to help.

To get in touch with our team of IT experts now, just call us on 01865 594 000 or fill in the form you’ll find at the bottom of this page.

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