Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022
Oh no! Your computer’s been hacked, and it now has an awful virus. But there’s good news; a helpful caller reached out to you to offer their expert help. The caller may even be a representative of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), or another reputable company, and they’re happy to help restore your device to safety. Just do as they say, and all will be right again.
Unfortunately, it won’t: If you do follow the caller’s instructions, you’ll be lured into a scam.
Malware scams are particularly malicious, as they exploit the prevalence of scams and hackers to trick innocent victims into losing their information and money. Here’s what you need to know about malware scams and how to avoid them.
Malware scams, also known as tech support scams, begin with a phone call. A scammer reaches out to an individual and informs them that their computer has been hacked. The caller claims the alleged hacker gained access to the victim’s device and can do all kinds of damage. However, the caller, posing as tech support, says they can help remove any malware that’s supposedly installed. The bogus rep gives the victim instructions for removing the malware, possibly even giving the caller access to their device. Unfortunately, though, if the victim follows these directions, they’ll actually be installing malware on their computer.
Avoid malware scams by looking out for these signs:
If you believe you’ve been targeted by a malware scam, take these steps to protect your money, and your device, from harm.
First, do not engage with the caller. Hang up as soon as possible and block the number. Next, if you’ve started entering information into your computer as per the caller’s instructions, close your device immediately. If you believe you have already given the scammer access to your device, you may want to consult a genuine tech support expert to remove any malware that may have been installed. In addition, consider canceling any credit cards you may have shared with the scammer or which were stored on browsers and apps on the device. Also, consider placing a credit freeze on your name to prevent any loans or new lines of credit the scammer may take out in your name. Finally, report the scam to the FTC.
A computer may be infected with malware and still operate almost normally. Here’s how to tell if your computer’s been infected:
If you notice any of these signs on your computer, it’s best to bring it to a tech support expert who can scan it for malware. If malware is found, follow the steps outlined above to protect your money and your information from further harm.
Don’t get caught in a malware scam! Stay alert and stay safe.
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