False Error Codes and How Hackers Use Them


For over a decade now, hackers have continuously raked-in millions of dollars every year through tech support scams that come as false error codes. The industry-wide issue involves scammers who trick users into unnecessary technical support to supposedly fix a contrived platform, software, or device problem.

The victims often end up paying hundreds of dollars after viewing a false error code with the belief that a specialist on the other end is working to prevent further danger from the system. The scammers rely on advanced software and technology, which allow third-parties to access and control a device remotely which can result in identity theft.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of awareness, and fewer people continue to fall for false error code scams. But before you learn how to keep your systems and devices safe, you first have to know how they operate.

How Do False Error Codes Work?

At best, false error code scammers try to get people to pay them for fixing nonexistent problems. At worst, these individuals attempt to steal your personal data. Suppose you permit them to ‘fix’ the problem. In that case, they may end up installing ransomware, malware, or any other unwanted program that may destroy your device or data and steal your information.

The scammers are usually confident enough to contact you directly via your phone number while impersonating software provider representatives. Ambitious scammers can spoof the caller ID; hence the call will appear like it’s from a trusted company or a legitimate support representative.

Once you’ve picked the call, they’ll proceed to request you to install an app or software that grants them remote access. Through this, they can access your device then misrepresent standard system outputs to appear as problem indicators.

Besides phone calls, scammers can also display fake error codes on any website, providing support contacts and convincing you to make the call. Sometimes, they may lock your browser by setting it to full screen, making it hard for you to close the pop-up messages. If you’re not cautious, you may end up tricked by such fake error codes into contacted the provided ‘technical support hotline.’

False error codes come in different forms. However, they’re all aimed at faking a computer problem and tricking you into paying for technical support.

How to Identify False Error Codes and Tech Support Scams?

These hackers rely on different approaches to ensure they trick as many people as possible. If you can spot all these tactics, you’ll be in a position to avoid the scam entirely. 

Among the first telltale indicators of this scam is an unsolicited email message or phone call. Legitimate support representatives don’t use this approach to contact users, and you should simply ignore the call, hang up, or refuse to respond. If you need any form of support, ensure you search for the right contact details online. Any legitimate company must display their contacts on the official website, so there’s no need to use any unofficial correspondence.

You can also identify the scam by staying aware of every software being installed on your PC or phone. Do not accept an app that you know nothing about. But you cannot rely on this to identify a scammer since most of them use legitimate programs to access your computer remotely.

Best Practices to Avoid False Error Code Scammers

Here are some precautions to help you lower the risk of becoming a victim of tech support and false error code scams:

  • Never assume that anyone contacting you is a legitimate worker of the specific company. Always remember that legitimate software providers will never make unsolicited calls and will never force you to make any tech support payments.
  • Normalize reaching out to the tech provider yourself whenever you experience any issues. You can check online for the correct email address and phone number. If you get a call, you can contact the legitimate company to confirm if one of them reached out to you.
  • Never grant remote access to strangers or unauthorized individuals. Unless you are sure that they are legitimate representatives of the said company, deny them access.
  • Never share your personal information with strangers. This is a more straightforward tip, yet many people still end up victims of false error codes by issuing their details to unknown individuals. Crucial data like credit card info, passwords, or bank account numbers should remain with you. Even legitimate representatives will not request some of these personal details.
  • Carry out continuous security awareness training to teach your personal how to identify and handle false error codes and any other tech support scam form. Share the security responsibility across the entire staff team to ensure everyone understands their role and do their part to keep the business data and IT resources safe from scammers.

Read more: How to protect your Computer from virus attacks

Despite the decrease in false error code scams, you still need to take the right precautions to keep your business data and systems safe from malicious hackers. The above information will guide you aptly on the suitable preventative measures and actions to take if you experience such hackers.

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