If you were a hacker and created a site to obtain sensitive information, what sort of site would it be? According to computer experts, the most popular type of site is one devoted to tech support, because consumers instinctively trust such companies.
There are certainly hundreds of legitimate tech support companies out there, so how can you distinguish a scam site from a real one? You certainly shouldn’t assume the top search results are the most reputable.
Kevin Boynton is the owner of a Richmond-based computer repair company. He says, “I get calls all the time from people saying ‘they took my money, I let them into my computer and they said they fixed all the problems and if I have any more problems, give them a call back but then they didn’t fix my problem.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, these people never get another reply. If you’re looking for a reputable tech support company, read reviews, talk to a live person, and get those testimonials.
The biggest niche
According to Boynton, the most common scams happen when consumers are looking for help with computers, not more complex tech help. “They see a phone number that says call us now for support, and they think okay.”
Many of these consumers never bother to do their research; they blindly trust what might be a marketing scam. “They will answer the phone as HP Support, but they are going to give you a hard sale and they are going to try to talk you into buying some sort of support,” Boynton warns.
Somewhat on the plus side, many of these scam artists are “just” out for your money and are not seeking to install malicious software on your computer. If you’re looking for a technician to actually repair your computer, be wary of any high pressure sales.
While this may not be illegal, it’s an iffy business model that indicates they don’t put the customer first. Plus, you can always challenge credit card purchases if you didn’t agree to the purchase.
Bigger fish in the sea
On the other hand, some sites are indeed designed strictly to steal your information. These probably won’t turn up among the top Google search results, but some companies do a great job of manipulating search engine optimization (SEO) for short periods of time to get higher rankings and attract potential victims.
If a “support company” is actually doing something illegal, they’ll be caught soon enough, but possibly not in time to save you. Your best move is to trust your gut, do your homework, and rely on real reviews.