Two weeks ago we talked about how to spot and avoid Tech Support Scams, but what if you’ve already been caught up in a scam? First, it’s important to realize that it isn’t your fault. The people running these scams are professionals and you are not alone in falling for it. Each year, according to Microsoft, about 3.3 million people are caught in these scams and the scammers take in up to 1.5 billion dollars. Now that we know there are a lot of people being hit by this, let’s look at what we can do if you’ve been hit. Here are seven things you need to do to recover from a Tech Support Scam.
Number 1: Turn Off Your Computer or Disconnect from the Internet
If you gave the Tech Support Scammer access to your computer there’s no telling what they could have done to it. From changing any number of different settings to installing malware, viruses or keyloggers (silent programs that send every key you type to the scammer – including passwords). It’s important to deny the Scammer access to your system immediately and the best way to do this is to turn your computer off and I’d suggest unplugging it from the wall as well to make 100% sure it’s off. Disconnecting your machine from the internet is another option, but if you are unsure how to do that, it’s easier to just power it down.
Number 2: Contact Your Bank to Stop Payment
Contact your Bank or Credit Card and alert them to the fraudulent payment on your account and request it be reversed. The steps you’ll need to take here might differ depending on what bank or Credit Card you use. So call customer service and explain the situation so they can help you.
Number 3: Get the Scammer Out of Your Computer
This step is tricky because it’s really hard to know exactly what they did when they had access to your computer. I want to stress that you should only attempt this step if you know what you are doing. If you have any doubts you should take your computer to a professional (like Y-Not Tech Services) and have them clean it up.
If you have a full system back-up, you can use that and you’ll be OK. If you don’t have a full back up (you should) you can use system restore to revert back to a restore point before they had access. If neither are available you may need to perform a full wipe to ensure they can’t access your PC again and to undo any changes they made.
NOTE: I want to stress that these steps should only be carried out if you have the knowledge and confidence to do so. For most people, the wisest course of action would be to bring it to a technician.
Number 4: Scan Your Computer for Viruses
After taking care of Number 3 it is now safe to attach your computer to the internet once again. You’ll want to get back online here so that you can ensure that your security software is updated. Once your antivirus has been updated you’ll want to do a FULL malware scan on your PC. If you don’t have a good Anti-Malware program, you’ll want to get one. Y-Not Tech Services recommends using our Stress-Free Antivirus so you don’t need to worry about whether it’s updated and scanning – we handle all those details for you.
If you took your computer to a Professional for step number three, it’s a good idea to get them to handle the Malware Scans while they’re at it.
Number 5: Change ALL Your Passwords
And I do mean all of them. Any account you log into from your computer should be changed. I recommend starting with your E-Mail password because with access to your e-mail the scammer can reset most of your other online accounts. Next, change the password to any financial institution you use online and then move onto all the rest of your accounts. This would also be a good time to consider using a Password Manager like our Password Vault powered by Keeper Security to handle your passwords. They can suggest a password that is harder to guess and remember it for you. That way you don’t need to remember 33 different passwords (you are using a different password for each account, right?).
Number 6: Watch Your Bank and Credit Card Statements
Keep an eye on your bank account and Credit Card statements, watching for any suspicious charges. It’s best to do this online so that can catch them quicker than waiting for your monthly statement and alert your bank.
Number 7: Watch For Computer Problems
To ensure your computer is clean it’s a good idea to keep watching for signs it may still be infected.
Slow performance, unknown websites in your browser history or strange e-mails in your inbox or sent mail folder are red flags. Be sure you continue to keep your Anti-Malware software up to date and scanning regularly or consider our Stress-Free Anti-Virus so can have peace of mind knowing your PC is secure.
Getting caught up in these crooks Tech Support Scam is never easy. I hope that this article can help lessen the burden of dealing with it. If you need additional assistance, Y-Not Tech Services is here to help! Book an appointment and we can help get you up and running after a Tech Support Scam.