What do you do when somebody calls you to say that you have a problem with your computer?

Best answer: Hang up!

It’s a familiar scenario faced by countless unsuspecting people every day. The details of the call may vary, but the bottom line is always: “We found a problem with your computer and you need to fix this right away”. The truth is: Calls like that are almost always a scam. The best answer is to just hang up.

But why do some many fraudsters seem genuine at first and how can you avoid getting caught by their trap?


They pretend to be calling from an organization you trust

The truth of the matter is trustworthy organizations do not call you to alert you about a potential problem you may have on your computer. Even if you are a customer of that organization.


They have information or personal details about you

Even if a caller seems to know something about you– whether it is the fact that you are a client of a certain business, your email address, your date of birth, etc. they’ve probably obtained this data somewhere else. They use this information to build trust and trick you into giving away sensitive personal information, such as bank details.


They ask you to run a test to demonstrate their point

It’s common for scammers to make you run a test on your computer that seems to verify their initial claim that you have a problem. Even if that test brings up thousands of error alerts it most probably doesn’t mean anything. This is because computers are delicate systems and the communications of your computers’ components with each other very often leads to small errors that generate warning messages. That doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is wrong with your computer.

So, if somebody cold calls you about a computer problem the safest course of action is to hang up. If you are worried about the health of your computer take it to a repair shop or ask a tech-savvy friend or relative to take a look.

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