KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- We've all been there: You're using your computer and suddenly there's a problem. A new scam that’s becoming alarmingly common actually connects you to a scammer when you call for tech support.
As the public becomes more sophisticated about computers, the scammers keep coming up with new ways to find victims, and this is the latest and it's one that caught people who consider themselves to be fairly tech savvy by surprise.
Many of us head to Google when we need help on our computer. Many people type in words like “Microsoft tech support,” looking for a phone number. And that's something scam artists know, so now scammers are using search engines like Google to trick us into thinking we are talking to a real computer company.
“Anybody can take an ad with Google and put a number up there,” said computer expert Burton Kelso, who works with Integral Computer Repair.
To show us how this scam works, Kelso typed in the words “Microsoft tech support” and clicked on the first link that popped up. It definitely wasn’t Microsoft
“What would it cost to get my computer fixed?” Kelso asked the person he was connected with through the link Google provided.
The person on the other end of the line would never answer that question. They said we'd have to get that information from a tech support person. To talk to tech support, they sent us to a different website of a different company.
“You still haven't given me a price,” Kelso said.
Our expert was again told the only way to get a price was to fill out these boxes. If he'd actually done that, it would have given the person at the other end of the line total access to his computer.
“Most legitimate tech support companies are going to quote you a price right away,” Kelso explained.
This has become such a big problem that Google and Facebook have come together to try and take down some of these scam sites.
So how do you protect yourself? Don't Google for tech support, instead go directly to a company's website, like apple.com or microsoft.com
That way you know you are dealing with the real company, and not an impersonator.
The other thing to remember is that if your computer is still under warranty, tech support is free if you go through the manufacturer, whereas some of these poser companies will charge you hundreds of dollars, often for services you don't need, or to clean up problems they've caused.