Make Sure It’s Really Tech Support.

Make Sure It’s Really Tech Support.

Make Sure It’s Really Tech Support.

Recently a hacker was sentenced to three years in federal prison for impersonating an Apple employee and scamming rappers and sports stars out of $322,000. It wasn't even much of an impersonation since the thief did not even have an Apple e-mail address. Nonetheless, he managed to get sports and music stars (his area of specialization) to fork over their usernames and passwords.

Other celebrated tech support scams include the many hacks of Quicken and other major software. Websites galore say they offer Quicken technical support. Quicken technical support is free, but many tech support sites charge big for services they may or may not render. Here are a few tips to avoid the fakes.

Unsolicited phone calls or e-mail. Thieves pose as support from a company and insist they have to run diagnostic tests on your computer. They may ask you to download a small screen share file so they can access your system and help you identify and remediate issues on your computer.

Popup warnings. These can range from update notices (You must update Flash now!) to apparent operating system errors with a phone number. Real computer errors do not include phone numbers. Don't click links or call phone numbers that appear in a pop-up.