Staying safe in the digital world becomes a bigger challenge with each passing day. While scams were once limited to obviously fraudulent emails and robocalls, scammers have developed various techniques and tools to make their requests for information seem legitimate. One recent trend that local businesses have been seeing is an increase in phone scams that aim to trick people into thinking that a scammer represents a company’s IT department. These criminals seek access to your computer in hopes of gaining financial, HR, or other confidential information. Working with a team of technical support professionals is critical in securing your business and personal data. Still, a healthy dose of skepticism and common sense can help individuals address potential phone scams.
Scammers Can Pretend To Be Anyone, Even A Howard Tech Engineer!
While most people have been conditioned to question suspicious emails, many of us place a bit more trust in phone calls. Emails can come from nameless, faceless individuals, but phone calls have a voice and a phone number behind them. One of our clients’ employees received a call on his cell phone from “the IT Department,” and the caller said that the user’s antivirus software was expiring. Under the guise of protecting this employee’s computer, the caller requested a credit card number to renew the antivirus program. The unsuspecting victim provided the number and even access to his computer to ‘update the software.’ This scenario suddenly created a crisis situation for the user, and the HTA team rebuilt his PC as soon as we were notified.
Criminals can easily present you with bits of factual information acquired through public or other sources, and thereby come across legitimately. Scammers may know your name, workplace, internet service provider, or preferred banking institution, and it can be challenging for individuals to spot fraud when presented with these details. Recently, a scammer was reported to have utilized technology to imitate or “spoof” a Maryland State Police phone number, appearing to victims as “State Police” on their caller ID. It is important to remember that scammers can pretend to be anyone, even government officials or law enforcement.
Sensitivity And Call Screening Is The Starting Point
All of us might have the same awareness of fake callers that we do with email. This sensitivity to a potential scam combined with call screening is the best place to start. Nearly all phones, whether landline or mobile, have built in caller ID. If you don’t recognize the caller’s number, we encourage you to simply ignore the call. You can obviously check your voicemail afterward, and return any important calls. By not speaking to a criminal, you can’t get tricked by that person.
If A Call Seems Weird, Hang Up!
With your sensitivity for phone scams heightened, you should be on the lookout for questions that seem out of character. Specifically, you should be highly guarded if someone asks about your computer security, account details, passwords, or anything sensitive. Unless you’re careful, a few simple questions could quickly lead to requesting access to your computer for “repair purposes.” If you receive a strange phone call, do not provide any sensitive information. One of the best ways to handle a phone scam is to simply hang up.
When In Doubt, Use Your Brain — And Your Technical Support Team!
While hanging up or screening your calls is an effective way to deal with phone scams, a scammer will often rely upon their target’s politeness to keep them on the line. If you suspect that you are talking to a scammer but do not want to be rude, offer to call back later. This allows you to disengage from the call and gain valuable insight into the caller’s motive. Scammers may get hostile when faced with resistance, and a sudden shift to a more aggressive or threatening tone is a clear sign of a scam. If you’re still unsure whether or not it’s a phone scam, contact the establishment that the caller claims to be from. Call your bank, office, or technical support department on a line that you know is legitimate for confirmation. If the scammer presented you with banking information or other private data, you might want to consider boosting your security measures with the help of a technical support team.
Howard Tech Advisors Provides Managed Services For Our Community
The team at Howard Tech Advisors is committed to providing managed services and customized IT solutions to our clients in Howard County, Baltimore, Columbia, and Ellicott City. We specialize in managed IT services for small and midsize businesses, particularly those near our office in Elkridge, Maryland. To learn more about our business and our work in the community, contact us at (410) 997-2500 or visit our website. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to stay up-to-date on our service offerings and tech tips.