How to spot technical support scams
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What is FastSupport?
FastSupport is a legitimate website that provides a remote computer access service using the GoToAssist toolset. Note that, although this site is legitimate, cyber criminals abuse it to generate revenue.
More about scams abusing remote administration tools
Remote access services are often legitimate and popular. Some of the more popular ones include TeamViewer, LogMeIn, etc. They are sometimes abused by cyber criminals, commonly through 'tech support' scammers.
Users encounter random redirects to deceptive sites claiming that system is damaged and encouraging them to contact tech support using various telephone numbers. After calling, users are asked to grant cyber criminals (who claim to be 'certified technicians') remote access to their systems via FastSupport (or another identical service).
These scammers then suggest that the system is infected and ask users to pay for removal of malware (that does actually not exist). In some, cases cyber criminals call the victim and claim to be from Microsoft, Apple, or another tech company. These people then demand remote access to solve technical issues, etc.
Bear in mind, that giving remote access to cyber criminals can be very dangerous. While, commonly, they strive to trick you into paying for services that are not required, they can install trojans, key loggers, and other malicious software on your computer.
If you gave access to connect to your computer to a suspicious third party agent, we recommend scanning your computer with a legitimate antivirus program, removing all the found threats, and then changing your passwords for online banking, email, and social media accounts, etc.
In this way, you can be sure that allowing remote connection to your computer will not result in identity theft, financial loss, and so on.
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Visitors must contact technical support to remove malware or solve other problems.|
|Disguise||Legitimate error, virus, or other message.|
|Symptoms||Fake error messages, fake system warnings, pop-up errors, hoax computer scan.|
|Distribution methods||Compromised websites, rogue online pop-up ads, unwanted applications.|
|Damage||Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.|
|Malware Removal (Windows)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Examples of similar scams
There are dozens of fake scams, all of which are very similar. The list of examples includes (but is not limited to) Microsoft Alert Your Data Is At High Risk, Attention Your Computer Has Been Infected, Your Computer Might Be Infected By Trojans, and Windows Malware Detected. All claim that system is damaged.
Be aware, however, that these claims are merely attempts to trick users into calling fake tech support or, in some cases, downloading fake anti-virus suites. Websites that deliver fake errors are often promoted using shady programs. Research shows that most of thes apps infiltrate systems without permission.
They then immediately start causing unwanted redirects to malicious websites, delivering intrusive advertisements, and gathering sensitive information.
How did malware infect my computer?
Some rogue apps are free for anyone to download on their official websites, however, in most cases, these programs infiltrate systems without permission. Developers proliferate them using intrusive advertisements and the "bundling" method. Intrusive ads redirect users to malicious websites and execute scripts that stealthily download/install malware.
"Bundling" is stealth installation of third party apps with regular software. Developers hide "bundled" programs within "Custom/Advanced" settings (or other sections) of the download/installation processes - they do not disclose this information properly.
Furthermore, many users are likely to click various advertisements and skip download/installation steps - behavior that often leads to inadvertent installation of various.
How to avoid installation of malware?
Poor knowledge and careless behavior are the main reasons for computer infections. Caution is the key to safety. Therefore, to prevent infiltration of unwanted apps, be very cautious when browsing the Internet and downloading/installing software. Be aware that developers invest many resources into intrusive ad design, thereby making them seem legitimate.
In fact, these ads redirect to dubious websites (gambling, adult dating, pornography, and so on). Most are delivered by rogue apps. Therefore, if you experience suspicious redirects, immediately eliminate all dubious applications and browser plug-ins. Furthermore, carefully analyze each window of the download/installation dialogs using the "Custom" or "Advanced" settings.
Opt-out of all additionally-included programs and decline offers to download/install them. We also strongly recommend that you avoid using third party downloaders/installers, since developers monetize them by promoting rogue apps. Software should be downloaded from official sources only, using direct download links.
If your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.
Sample of fake tech support scam that abuses FastSupport service:
Another example of pop-up scam (Windows Defender Security Center) used by cyber criminals:
Screenshot of an updated GoToAssist website (fastsupport.com now redirects to fastsupport.gotoassist.com):
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is fastsupport.com virus?
- How to identify a pop-up scam?
- How do pop-up scams work?
- How to remove fake pop-ups?
- How to prevent fake pop-ups?
- What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?
How to identify a pop-up scam?
Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.
While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.
Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:
- Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
- Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
- Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
- Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
- Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.
Example of a pop-up scam:
How do pop-up scams work?
Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.
Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.
How to remove fake pop-ups?
In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.
In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.
How to prevent fake pop-ups?
To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.
To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?
This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.
- If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
- If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
- If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
- Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is a pop-up scam?
It is a fake message (e.g., an error or virus warning) designed to trick users into performing certain actions. These messages are displayed by untrustworthy websites.
What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?
Cybercriminals use these scams to trick users into providing remote access to their computers, downloading potentially malicious software, providing sensitive information, and other malicious purposes.
Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?
Typically, users open web pages that display fake messages via sites that use questionable advertising networks, untrustworthy ads, and notifications from shady pages.
Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?
Combo Cleaner scans every website to detect and block malicious ones, including web pages that display fake messages. It will immediately warn you and restrict access to these sites.
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