This article answers frequently asked questions about suspected technical support scams.

What is a Suspected Technical Support Phone Scam?

A Suspected Technical Support Phone Scam refers to the act of a third party (usually unaffiliated with a software vendor) who may attempt to take advantage of an unsuspecting user's concerns about malware, virus infections and other online threats in order to make money. The most common way that these scammers try and lure their victims is by making unsolicited phone calls or through the use of false advertisements to gain control of one's computer. In many cases the third party may misrepresent themselves or their company by claiming to be the original software vendor or an official support agent or representative.

How do these schemes work?

The would-be scammers will make unsolicited calls to their target several times, claiming they are technical support representatives from well-known software companies (e.g. Microsoft or security antivirus companies like Norton, McAfee or even Trend Micro). Other methods may include advertising technical support on the web offering to fix computer problems or sell software licenses. These representatives will try to convince users into believing that they can fix issues or malware problems and often request that you allow remote access to your computer. Once this remote access has been established, these third parties have the freedom to install malware of their own or perform other malicious activities to essentially hijack your computer and hold it for ransom unless they are paid a certain “fee” for services.

How do I respond to a suspected Tech Support Phone Scam?

Listed are tips on how to respond to a suspected tech support phone scam:

  • Do not allow someone to take control of your computer especially from suspicious third party support. 
  • Never provide credit card or financial information to anyone unless you are 100% confident you are working with your software provider. Scammers may utilize phone directories to know your name.
  • Whenever you receive a random phone call or see pop-up notifications/advertisements (see picture below) and you are uncertain whether it is from Trend Micro, you are advised to hang up and validate with Trend Micro Technical Support.  The only authorized technical support phone numbers for Trend Micro will be located on Trend Micro’s website.
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  • When you search online to find technical support or a company’s contact information, make sure you are visiting the company’s website and not some other third party domain. You can also find Trend Micro support information on your order confirmation email, software package or original receipt, if available.

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What should I do if I realize I have been scammed?

If you believe that you may have already fallen for a third party scam by telephone, do the following:

  • If you are able, uninstall or delete programs or applications installed by the suspicious third party support. If you utilize backups or snapshot images (such as Windows System Restore), try reverting to a previous restore point or backup taken before the questionable call or session.
  • If you provided any passwords, change them immediately on all sites or areas you may have used them.
  • If you already provided your credit card information, you should contact your issuing bank and request a fraud investigation and/or reverse the charges.
  • If you still have issues on your system that you suspect may be related to malware, contact our Technical Support for further assistance.

There are several legitimate third party technical support organizations that provide PC services such as malware remediation and/or cleanup. However, users who choose to use their services are advised to research about these companies ahead of time. Most legitimate services will clearly state that they are a third party technical support provider, and any claims of official representation or partnership with a vendor should be checked and/or validated directly with the vendor themselves.

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