/ Technology

Scam watch: have you been conned by fake tech support?

Hand shadow over computer keyboard

Imagine the horror when you buy antivirus software to protect your computer and personal details, only to give access to them when you accidentally call a copycat tech support site? Fortunately, one member smelt a rat before any real damage could be done…

Member Roxana Triefus told us how she was almost swindled by a fraudulent tech support team after buying an antivirus subscription from a well-known provider.

‘I bought a Norton antivirus subscription in a shop, and I went to what I thought was Norton’s activation site. There, I filled in my contact details and entered the product key, but an error message appeared. A pop-up advised me to call a number. I phoned it and granted remote access to my PC, and was then advised that it was infected with a virus, which could be removed for a £199 fee. This seemed suspicious, so I refused to pay and hung up.’

Our say on tech support scams

This is a tech support scam, where fraudsters try to gain remote access to a computer to steal financial details.

Symantec (which makes Norton software) has no record of its support team ever speaking with the member, and says it’s likely she spoke to an ‘unaffiliated and unofficial third party’. She may have unintentionally gone to a copycat website that apes the official Norton site. This has a phone service manned by impostors.

The member has since had the software safely installed and her PC checked by a firm with Which? Trusted Traders status.

Never allow remote access to a machine or hand over financial details on the basis of an unverified call. Ensure you contact companies on legitimate sites. Norton’s is support.norton.com.

When made aware of our member’s case, Symantec kindly extended her antivirus subscription for a further six months, free of charge.

Do you have further questions? Which? now has it’s own dedicated tech support service run by our in-house experts. Find out more here.

Have you been caught out by a fake tech support team or product? What happened?


A good commercial firewall AND internet malware/virus protection is definitely required for Windows ,just having a firewall alone doesn’t do it in those types of cases . No virus protection is 100 % secure , some reach 90 % and they are the good ones meaning dear ones , as I said a few days ago even the experts agree ONLY Layered protection gives you good safety , meaning additional protection over and above any standard type of commercial protection . You must go for the “total “variety not the “cheapy ” , I have three different types of internet protection apps from a held in high regard organisation not only do they block all the usual trackers etc but they block MALWARE DOMAINS as well . I tried it out recently on a known Fake website — it blocked it giving me all the details to decide for myself but advising me to return to the previous webpage but nothing is perfect , scammers are well up on the latest tech and the long list of updates are required every few days , even better than Windows who wait till something goes wrong to send down “security updates ” by that time many are in trouble . The only trouble is my apps sometimes “break ” websites , for example I have to turn them off to access MY BT and /or BTMail but that can be done on an individual basis . Be careful checking out malware companies they sometimes hype up their products but some tech websites test them and give them scores out of 100 , many just reach 70 to 80 % .

Microsoft has just announced a new OS layer to boost the security of future IoT products. It is Linux based… 😀

That says it all in two directions Derek and we do have Redmond,s investment in the Linux Foundation of 10 % or so. I would not be surprised if MS Windows morphed into a version of Linux but would it still be open? The IoT is so full of holes that it’s a hackers dream come true but all you see in publicity shots is “how wonderful it is ” and don’t dare frighten the public toooo much money involved. Likewise, Cloud Storage its even admitted openly now it’s not the secure dream that was publicised its got feet of clay.

David Marcer says:
24 April 2018

I was phoned by someone claiming to be from Microsoft support and saying that there was a fault on my machine that he could help me to sort out. He asked me to go to the PC. I had heard of these scams and being vaguely computer literate I effected to be even more doddery than I actually am, pretending to mishear or misunderstand and making mistakes that he had to correct. He instructed me to type in a command. ‘What does it say?’ I told him. ‘Ah yes, please type in …’ and so it went on. My aim was to waste as much of his time as I could, but I became bored when he asked ‘what does it say now?’ for about the fourth time I slowly and hesitatingly replied, as if I was having difficulty reading, ‘It seems to say something like “tell that ****hole to **** off, he’s trying to scam you’. End of phone call.

That second last sentence cheered me up David – thanks !

I have been saying for a long time when posters ask -how do I stop those scam calls and I have been telling them incessantly that YES they can be stopped but HMG wont introduce legislation to force telephone companies to comply and block them . Some people have queried my comments on that saying – “its impossible to stop ” . well listen up all you doubters . Putin is blocking the Telegram app universally in Russia so the crafty down-loaders are using VPN,s – VoIP -voice over the internet protocol to overcome it BUT Putin now says he will block VoIP+VPN,s – get it ? he is saying Russian tech can block it so if Russia can block it then Britain can also . Stop press ! Putin has already done it with VPN,s and VoIP and is adding more so its doable. Japanese VIBER is the VoIP that will be blocked .

ChrisG says:
26 May 2018

Yes like many I get a lot of these calls, though the frequency has reduced and the scams have become cleverer. I try to keep them talking as long as possible, just to waste their time. The most recent was a ‘message’ from my “ISP provider” telling me that my modem and computer are infected and the modem needs replacing, noting my internet access will be shut down in 24 hours if I don’t reply. This could be very frightening for some. Since they didn’t identify themselves as my ISP provider I knew it was a scam. Another scam to beware of is a ‘household survey’ which starts simple then asks a lot of intrusive questions. At the end it then asks questions that might let it identify your passwords. As soon as I became suspicious- when they asked where I bank – I started giving fake answers.

I must warn all customers of BT that there is now a scammer/hacker , probably in the USA who is producing excellent reproductions of the latest BT Plus/BT emails . These are so good it took me a few minutes to find any flaws which was the word Telecomunications ” which is used by some Americans instead of Telecommunications , also the URL was not an official BT one . Various other smaller flaws were found by me but I have to “compliment ” the scammer , this is his best yet and yes there was an official looking and worded version of “click on this”. I of course had a word with BT in their new BT Plus call centre in England (auto-routed ) which I have to say is excellent , its just a pity BT,s American email service doesn’t spot this implying zero virus control and they are making a fool of BT,s reputation.