Tech Support Scams

There has been a recent increase in scams targeting colleges. In a typical scenario, a caller poses as an employee of a big-name computer company such as Microsoft or Dell and tells the victim that their computer is infected with a virus and it needs to be remedied. If successful, the scammer convinces the victim to download a piece of software or to allow remote access control of their computer. The sale of these so-called “helpful” services can result in the installation of malware on your computer or even lock you out of it.

While this example uses a cold phone call, the same scam can be perpetrated through internet pop-ups, online ads, and websites that offer a hotline number to clean your computer or help boost speeds or productivity. Cybercriminals often use publicly available phone directories so that they can address you by name and know other personal information about you when they contact you. They might even guess what operating system you’re using.

Once a scammer has access to your computer they could capture FIT information and data; college records, ID numbers, and your personal data; usernames, and passwords, or your photos. They might also then charge you to remove this software or to restore data they encrypted.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Do not trust unsolicited calls.

  • If you are uncertain if a pop-up on your computer is legitimate, don’t take the risk.

  • 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.

  • If your computer is slow or if you have another reason to think it has a virus, contact TechHelp in C307A (students) C305B (staff and faculty), and we can help you.

If you have any questions or think you may have been the victim of a scam, please email [email protected].