Here’s a scenario: You’re working on your computer, scrolling aimlessly down an article, when a pop-up warning jumps to life on your screen. Bold letters, which may or may not be flashing, alert you to a previously unknown virus threat that lurks on your computer. You might even hear a computergenerated voice blasting the warning through your speakers. You’re presented with a number and urged to call emergency tech support immediately.
Do you call the number?
Let’s say you want to err on the side of caution and call the number for assistance. You’ll reach “emergency tech support” and be asked to make a payment so they can “remove” the virus. If you give “tech support” your credit card information, they may also request access to your computer. As this point, it’s clear you’ve fallen into a scam.
Before you scoff at the idea of listening to an intrusive pop-up, know these windows often prevent users from being able to click away from the page or close their browser. In this situation, it’s easy to understand why someone may become concerned with the security of their computer and the data stored on it. However, by falling for this scam, not only are you putting your credit card information directly into the hands of cybercriminals, but you may also have inadvertently allowed them to install malware on your computer.
The next time you browse the internet and run into a pop-up scam that refuses to close, navigate away from the page. You may need to kill the browser in task manager. If you’re using Google Chrome, pull up task manager by holding the Shift + Esc keys. Select the page with the pop-up on the list and hit “End Process.” On a Mac, use Alt/Option + Command + Esc to force applications to quit.
If you have fallen for this scam, don’t beat yourself up. Many others are in the same boat. If you called the number and gave someone your credit card information, call your credit card company now and cancel the card. Next, call your real emergency tech support team at 804-730-2628. Your team at Sklar will be able to check your computer for harmful malware, help remove it, and protect you from additional damage.