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How to Spot and Stop Common Scams and Get the Tech Support You Deserve

African American man sitting on couch scrolling through phone

Almost one full year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all spending more time online. Most of us use a computer to get our work done. If we have kids at home, we’re helping them with online education. We rely on video and chat apps to stay connected with friends and family. We use e-commerce sites to do our shopping and banking apps to manage our finances.

It makes sense, then, that all this online activity has become a major target for scammers, spammers, hackers, and bad actors. They send malicious emails claiming to contain new information about COVID-19 vaccines. They try to capture our attention with fake shipping notifications. And, in a recent twist, they’re offering fake tech support services that prey on our worries about underperforming devices.

If we’re spending all day on our laptops, smartphones, or tablets, even the slightest hiccup can slow us down significantly. That’s how the unsolicited phone call, unknown pop-up, or unfamiliar email preys on our concerns. Whether these scams purport to prevent viruses, resolve security issues, or fix deactivated accounts, they all share similarities.

Here’s what we’ve seen—and how you can better protect your computers, your data, and your business with a trusted IT provider like CMIT Solutions on your side.

Know what to look for.

The most common efforts to steal money or information capitalize on the most common concerns. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, emails claiming to be from the CDC or World Health Organization tricked people into clicking on malicious links. During the holiday season, fake information about package tracking and charitable giving increased. And with a growing population of older adults and caregivers across North America, scammers continue to target those who may not be savvy with technology.

Know when to look for it.

In the case of fake tech support scams, incidents increase when people return to regular routines and get back to work. That makes the first few weeks after the holiday season a prime target. Of course, the goal isn’t to actually help—it’s to sell useless services, swipe your credit card number, install malware on your machine, or steal passwords that can compromise multiple accounts at once.

How do you know this type of scam is targeting you? Know how the methods vary.

We all know by now that fake phone calls are a fact of life. But phone calls are also important to any business, and cybercriminals can spoof local phone numbers, rendering caller ID useless. Beware of an unsolicited caller claiming to be a computer technician who knows that viruses, ransomware, or malware are on your computer. This line of questioning is often used to manipulate you into granting remote access to your computer or purchasing software you don’t need. Be especially cautious and hang up immediately if the caller says payment can be made with a gift card or wire transfer.

Method #1: Unwanted call on the phone.

As cybersecurity threats evolve, so must the defenses that protect against them. At CMIT Solutions, we deploy multiple layers of security around the perimeter of your company’s IT infrastructure. That starts with strong firewalls and extends into anti-virus software, active network management, traffic monitoring, DNS filtering, and anti-spam protection. The more layers you have protecting your business, the more prepared you are to prevent attacks and mitigate problems.

Method #2: Unfamiliar pop-up on the computer.

Although it might seem complicated, this is actually easier for hackers to pull off than you think. Unwanted pop-up ads appear all the time on unprotected websites with a message that may warn of a security issue, a needed diagnostic test, or a software upgrade. DO NOT click on these links—they can install malware or ransomware directly onto your machine.

Method #3: Unsolicited email claiming to be about a suspended account.

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book for hackers—but it’s still common because of users’ worry about being locked out of important accounts. Whether it looks like it’s coming from Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, or Zoom, use caution with emails like this. Again, DO NOT click on links or attachments in the message as they can lead to immediate cybersecurity problems. If you’re concerned about an account, manually type the website’s URL into your browser and then check your status.

So how can you keep your business safe?

The best way is to work with a trusted IT provider who you know and can trust. At CMIT Solutions, our business owners and technicians are trusted members of the local community—you can meet them and talk to them in person (wearing masks and maintaining physical distance, of course), and you can rest assured they won’t try to target you with an unsolicited phone call to claim your computers have a problem.

What CMIT Solutions will do is provide proactive IT solutions for your business and your systems. That means reliable anti-virus, anti-spam, and anti-malware software that prevents hacks, scams, and compromises. That means 24/7 monitoring and maintenance to identify cybersecurity issues before they impact your business. That means behind-the-scenes protection that never interferes with day-to-day operations through unwanted pop-ups or unsolicited emails.

CMIT Solutions operates across North America, but each location is independently owned and operated by trusted local experts. We provide our clients with the same level of respect and connection that makes our community strong. We offer enterprise-class solutions for small to medium-sized businesses—all at a price you can afford and with a level of support unmatched by other firms.

Want to protect your business, empower your employees, and defend your data against today’s most common scams? Contact CMIT Solutions today.

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