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Technical support scams play on global ransomware fears

11 July 2017

Recently reported technical support scams have used a new bait to trick users into installing remote access software or paying bogus support fees – the fear of ransomware.

Recently reported technical support scams have used a new bait to trick users into installing remote access software or paying bogus support fees – the fear of ransomware.

Microsoft recently tweeted that they had seen a new technical support scam campaign, attempting to take advantage of increased anxiety around ransomware.

This new version of the scam used a web page and a pop-up that told users they were being attacked by ransomware and should call a number displayed on the popup for support.

Technical support scams have been around for years, and scammers are constantly updating and honing their methods to make their ruses more believable.

Scammers have used a number of different methods to contact potential victims and trick them into giving remote access to their computer and make payments for fake technical support.

Victims have reported receiving phone calls, emails or even text messages from technical support scammers, telling them that there is a problem with their computer or internet connection and impersonating large companies such as Microsoft, Apple or Telstra.

Other versions of the scam (similar to the ransomware example) use popups when victims are browsing the web or may even use malicious ads in search results, targeting users already looking for technical support.

ScamWatch reports on their website that Australians have lost over $80,000 to scammers this year alone, although due to underreporting the real figure is likely to be higher.

Technical support scams are a global problem and the FBI recently listed technical support scams as a hot topic in their 2016 Internet Crime Report.

If you think you’ve been the victim of a technical support scam, report the scam to your local police, ACORN (Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network) and ScamWatch.

Stay Smart Online also has advice on what to do if you’ve been the target of a technical support scam and how to protect yourself.