Be wary, please, when you search for “official” tech support phone numbers on the Web. The results are filled with bad guys.
The problem is that a search for a tech support number will very rarely – almost never – get a real tech support number in the results. But it will turn up numbers for people presenting themselves as something that they are not.
Here’s an illustrated example of what I mean:
In this case, I’ve searched in Google for “Dell tech support phone.” A quick glance at the results page shows that the first nine items on the page, indeed, show the name “Dell” as if they were official corporate entities, and the top six of them also all include a toll-free telephone number.
But a closer look reveals that, in fact, all six of those with phone numbers are fakes presenting themselves as, or claiming to be “Dell Tech Support” but actually not Dell at all.
By the way; while I used “Dell” in this example, the results would vary, but still be similar if I had used AOL, Apple, Sony, IBM, Lenovo, Gateway, Acer or any computer hardware or software company name.
The Really Bad Part:
If you do call these fake support numbers, you will get a live person who will answer as if from a legitimate support service and who will engage with you as if to try to resolve whatever problem you are having.
As part of the process they will connect to your computer by remote and install a utility program or two to help solve the problem. In some cases, it is reported that the support person may stay on for 30 to 60 minutes or even more.
The catch: Sometimes they do solve a problem, but typically at some point in the process, the “support tech” will declare that they have figured it out, but that they’ll need to make a charge on your credit card to finish it up.
Some versions will say that you need to purchase an annual “service contract” for $100 or more. Another approach is to sell levels of warranty on their work; like a one week guaranty for $50 or one year for $100.
At this point, if they’ve made the remote connection, then they already have had freedom to roam about in your computer and even to install malicious software. If you go forward with them then they will also have your credit card number.
It turns out that a few of these services companies are not total fakes. Some actually are, in their way, legitimate tech support firms that mean no harm, but their methods of getting you to call and for enticing you to pay for their promised service shows them to be untrustworthy, right from the start.
How to Tell the Real From the Fake:
The fake tech support services buy ads on Google, and elsewhere, that use the name of the company that you are searching for. Because they are ads, they show up above or over to the right of your actual search results.
If you look very carefully at the ad details, two features are different: the URL and the telephone number.
Always check the URL to see if it has “YourComapny.com” immediately before the first slash. Notice in the example above that the first item’s URL has “techhelpapps.com”. This expressly is not “Dell.com”, and so is not reliably a Dell corporate site. On the other hand, the URL for the fourth item down in the main, left-hand list indeed says, “dell.com” right before the first slash. This is the real web address for Dell computers.
Also notice the telephone numbers. Real tech support sites almost never actually show a tech support phone number; toll-free or not. There is a valuable business purpose for this omission. The companies would prefer that you come to their websites first, so that you can search for a solution to whatever problem you are having and, hopefully, solve it yourself without an expensive-to-them tech support phone call.
The Best Way to Avoid the Fakes:
The best and easiest way to avoid the fakes is to go directly to the corporate website and look for a “Support” link there. Just type the desired company name, with dot-com attached, directly into the address bar of your web browsing software.
(The “address bar” is the topmost space on your browser, where it shows you the address of the website that you are on. Type the name – dell.com or aol.com or whatever – directly into that space and press “enter.”)
Good luck with your search. Of course, if I can answer any questions about this or any other computer matters, please give me a call. Mike Pepper, Pawling Computer Guy. 845-855-8-5824.