A tech support call you don’t expect is likely a scam.

In a tech support – remote access scam, the fraudster will manipulate you into allowing them remote access to your personal computer, cell phone or other mobile device. To do this, the fraudster will use various scare tactics. Those tactics are meant to incite anxiety and desperation in you, the victim of the scam. Their goal is for you to let down your guard and follow every step of their guidance. The end result, they access your finances and personal information.

Fraudsters will use different methods to gain your trust.

In one variation of the scam, the fraudster will call you and pretend to be from a tech support company. They’ll claim their company is contacting all previous or existing customers to issue refunds. Why are they issuing refunds? They say the company is closing and has to comply with laws to refund any fees already charged for future services. Or, they might say they’ve learned you were not pleased with their service and want to refund your fees.

In this example, the fraudster will need to access your device and deposit funds to your account (via your online banking of course). What the fraudster does is move your own money between your different accounts. Then, they make it look like they issued a refund and accidentally gave you too much money. What happens next? The fraudster works out a plan for you to get those excess funds back to them immediately. Again, they’ll incite fear and pressure you to …
• Purchase gift cards and then give them the gift card information, or maybe even text/email/message them pictures of the gift cards and receipts
• Download apps such as Venmo, CashApp, Bit Coin – or any other money transfer app
• Take cash out of your account(s) and then deposit that cash at a BitCoin or Crypto ATM
They’ll might even tell you it’s important that you keep them on your cell phone while you go to your financial institution and withdraw cash. Or, keep them on the phone while you go and purchase the gift cards. If this happens, stop and think through reasons they might want you to do that.

Another example, the fraudster contacts you and claims there’s a problem of some sort with your device and they have to fix it immediately. In order to fix the problem, they’ll need remote access. While in your device, they access various personal files with private information and potentially gain your online banking login credentials. The fraudster convinces you the problems have been resolved and you have to pay for their service. They might ask for your credit card number, debit card number, account number or even a check payable from your account.

Another method would be through ‘pop-up’ windows that appear to be error messages. The ‘pop-up’ windows will claim there’s a serious issue with your device and you must call them at the number listed to resolve things. When you call, the fraudster guides you through steps that allow them remote access to your device. The scam escalates from there and you end up losing money and, possibly, your identity.

Tips to avoid these scams …

• Legitimate companies do not contact you by phone or email to tell you they have found problems on your device. Don’t fall for it. Hang up.
• Legitimate tech support companies do NOT need to access your online banking. Don’t fall for it, keep your online banking info private.
• No legitimate tech company will ask you to purchase gift cards to pay for their services. Don’t fall for it, don’t purchase those gift cards.
• Just because your caller ID displays a local number doesn’t mean it’s a legitimate/local company – fraudsters can spoof different phone numbers, they do this in attempts to gain your trust. Don’t fall for it just because you think it’s a local company.

If you experience any of these things, contact your financial institution for help. Further, make sure you’ve had your device cleared of any virus. If you have a wireless network in your home, be sure you’ve communicated with your internet provider for help in securing that network access.

Beacon Credit Union does not endorse or support any of the businesses listed above. This article is provided only as a resource for information.