We’ve all heard of someone getting the wool pulled over their eyes by a scammer trying to obtain personal and banking information from an unsuspecting victim. Most of us think we know better than to fall for some random person calling and asking for our social security and credit card numbers, but what about tech support? With the proliferation of cloud-based PC and Mac applications, would it really be so far off base for a representative of one of them to call you after finding a problem with your online account?

Welcome to the PC Support Scam, which is now affecting PC and Mac users alike. Much like other scams, you receive a call from someone claiming to want to help you, in this case because your computer is having an issue. How would they know this? Because you are connected through the cloud to their tech team. Your computer is sending out troubling data, and they want to fix it for you. In order to do so, they need to connect remotely to your computer through TeamViewer or some other screen sharing application. You log into the website and grant the caller access. The scammer is now in your computer where they can deposit malware and other insidious applications to track your keystrokes and identify your passwords, bank information, and other personal data stored on your computer. Oh, and to fix your computer, they will likely need your credit card number and security code to bill you for the small charge. Now they have you.

So how can you avoid falling victim to this and other scams? One way is to question who is calling. If they ask for your personal information, ask for identifying information. Or better yet, tell them you will call them back, find the number for your PC or Mac tech support and call them directly. If there is truly a problem with your system, the real tech support will be able to detect it, and then you’ll know it’s legit. If someone calls claiming to be with your bank or credit card, call them back at a number you know belongs to your financial institution and take it from there. Never give personal information to someone who called you unsolicited.

What happens if everything seemed above board and you provided access to your computer only to find out it’s a scam? Disconnect now. Remove your device from the internet connection, because that is how they are gaining access. Change your passwords so anything they could have received becomes unusable. Lastly, monitor your financial accounts to ensure no fraudulent transactions took place.

Even the most astute can fall victim to a polished scammer, so knowing how to rectify the situation is as important as avoiding it. Most importantly, try not to berate yourself for falling into a trap. Scammers have made a career out of manipulating people, and they are very good at it.

We can’t always avoid negative situations in life, but knowledge is power, and knowing how to avoid and recover from a harmful issue gives you the power to protect your assets.

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