Once or twice in your life, you might have received a call from someone suspicious claiming to be part of Windows’ Help Desk. He might have claimed that there was something wrong in your computer and if you don’t pay him a certain amount of money, you could end up losing your beloved hardware to unscrupulous software.
He might even persuade you to download a piece of software from a shady-looking website, which of course is malware designed to steal your information (like credit card numbers) or destroy your computer. If you’re a tech-savvy person, you might have just rolled your eyes and dropped the call…or had fun with the low life and let go of a few hurtful words. Most scams like these sound so stupid that they are laughable – but there are also many that fall for them.
These support scams aren’t a joke to a majority of users who are not exactly informed of the ins and outs of the tech world. And in a truly terrifying twist, some of these scams have even gone on to become established companies, among the most notable ones being a firm called PCCare247, which was cracked down by the Federal Trade Commission. This firm earned $4 million annually and even poised itself as a legitimate company in India, having its own office space and more than 50 employees.
Unfortunately, these scams still exist and they are now rearing their ugly heads on Apple users.
These schemes deviate from the classic “calling from Windows scam”, as noted by the researchers from Malwarebyte. Scammers come up with elaborate and ingenious ways to trick gullible users to take action: one of the most notable ones is ara-apple.com.
And no, DO NOT click and download whatever is on those links. The address is designed to mimic Apple’s official customer service page (shown below), and unfortunately, some people fall for this scheme – while you may look at this and think that you wouldn’t be a victim, think about if you are in a rush or aren’t as familiar with Apple’s site. Would you fall for the screen above?
The screenshot below is what Apple’s support page actually looks like:
Apple offers screen sharing customer support services for its consumers, allowing a certified company technician work on your computer remotely in the confines and comfort of your own home.
If you do download whatever software is on those links, it then downloads programs “technicians” will use to log in to the person’s Mac. They will either use the software to grab personal information stored on your computer or make you believe that there’s something wrong with it and will require you to pay a certain amount of money to help remove the viruses and malware.
Thing is, these are nonexistent and are figments of the scammer’s imagination. Another one of these schemes is this:
People who call these toll free numbers are given a sales pitch by the scammer on the other end. Fraudulent warnings like these are quite common in Mac computers – the sight of these is quite scary for people who are not well-versed in the tech world.
These warnings also take the form of pop-up advertisements and emails messages.
Take note that these support scams may look atrocious and hard to believe, but it can lure in a sizable number of people. After all, they provide a clear call to action and largely target users who aren’t well-versed in computers.
Avoid being conned
When a support scam via phone happens, the best way to deal with it is to hang up… or if you have a lot of time on your hands, troll the scammer and waste an hour of his precious time. Ruin his day.
On a serious note, avoid these support scams by going Apple’s official customer service page or by setting an appointment with a technician in the Apple store near you. No Apple or Windows representative will call your number because of a malware infection, simply because they have no way of knowing it unless if you directly report it.
Bear in mind that no legitimate company will directly ask you to provide your credit card details on the phone. Beware of opening lines like:
“Dear sir or madam, I’m calling from Apple support and we’ve noticed unusual activity on your computer. Please follow this link to contact our technicians who can help you deal with this problem.”
Take note of the above mentioned schemes and be sure to tell your family and friends about this.