Discover more from Mack’s Cyber Watch
Breaking News! A New Wave of Tech Support Scams: Stay Informed, Stay Safe
A rise in scams according to the FBI
By: Mack Jackson Jr.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has sounded the alarm on an escalating trend of tech support scams, employing a novel strategy to swindle innocent users out of their hard-earned money. According to Bleeping Computer, the U.S. government agency has highlighted this emerging threat in a public service announcement via its Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
Unlike the typical cyber threats that cast a wide net, these tech support scams are particularly insidious, primarily targeting older adults through various channels such as phone calls, text messages, phishing emails, and deceptive pop-up windows. Even if you aren’t the primary target, someone you care about could be, especially if you have older relatives living alone. Hence, the FBI’s warning about this new wave of tech support scams is crucial for everyone.
A Shift in Scam Tactics
Tech support scams typically begin with a seemingly helpful message or email. The scammer might alert potential victims about suspicious activities linked to their accounts or offer to refund a subscription fee. Regardless of the bait, a phone number is provided, and targets are urged to call for further assistance.
Once the scammer has the victim on the line, they manipulate them into downloading and installing remote access software, effectively gaining complete control over their computer. The victims are then persuaded to log into their bank accounts, where additional money is deposited. The scammer then requests the victim return the extra cash, often claiming they could lose their job if they don’t.
Victims were previously asked to return this extra money via bank transfers, cryptocurrency, or gift cards. However, the latest iteration of tech support scams has a new twist. The FBI reports that scammers are now instructing victims to send the money in cash, concealed in magazines or similar methods, via a shipping company to an address provided by the scammer. This method leaves no recourse for victims to report the scam to their bank, as the money was willingly sent in cash.
Moreover, victims are exposed to the risk of a “jugging” attack when withdrawing cash to send to these scammers. Jugging is a physical attack where a criminal follows a person after they withdraw money from a bank or ATM to rob them. In this scenario, victims could be assaulted and robbed outside the bank, or a criminal could even follow them home to avoid detection.
Shielding Yourself from Tech Support Scams
The FBI offers several recommendations to protect yourself and your loved ones from tech support scams.
Firstly, never download any software onto your computer at the request of an unknown individual who contacted you via text message, email, or phone. Similarly, never allow them to take control of your computer, especially under the pretense of helping you fix an issue.
Avoid clicking on any web pop-ups warning you of computer issues. The same applies to links sent via text messages, social media, or email.
Most importantly, never call any phone numbers provided in emails or messages from unknown senders. Cybercriminals often create a sense of urgency to manipulate you into calling a phone number they’ve provided.
If you encounter a tech support scam, the FBI recommends immediately reporting it to its Internet Crime Complaint Center. Given the risk of identity theft associated with falling prey to a tech support scam, it’s worth investing in robust protection.
Tech support scams are among the oldest cyber threats, and while the scams themselves may not change drastically, the methods cybercriminals use to steal money from victims can, as we’ve seen here. Therefore, it’s crucial to remain vigilant when checking our email, messages, and browsing the web.