Avoiding Tech Support Warranty Scams This Holiday Season

The holidays are a time for friends and family, not fraud. Follow Dell’s tips to avoid a tech support warranty scam this season.

The holiday season is often called the “most wonderful time of year,” but it is also a time of increased scams. Fraud campaigns try to capitalize on the flurry of retail purchases, goodwill and general stress of the holidays to cash in.

One set of scams that happens year-round, but is especially prevalent around the holidays, is tech support warranty scams. Fraudsters take advantage of devices purchased during last year’s holiday season with warranties set to expire on an annual basis. They will launch a wave of fraudulent calls or emails posing as the device manufacturer with a warranty renewal offer.

Scammers will find victims who inadvertently provide their personal or financial information for a warranty renewal. This is typically done by convincing the recipient to click on a scammer-supplied link or grant remote access to their device. Once the unwitting victim clicks on the link or grants remote access, the scammer has free rein over the device and can steal local files, passwords, contact lists and even access bank accounts.

Tech support warranty scammers often use the branding of a well-known company and spoof its website and email domains, create phone numbers purported to be the company’s tech support center and sometimes even cite personal information or device details associated with the victim.

Dell is dedicated to addressing customer reports of fraudulent activity, and we’re proud to have success detecting, disrupting and dismantling impersonation campaigns at the earliest signs. Upon identifying the scammer, we proactively shut down their means of communication to disrupt their activities, making it more difficult for the scammer to continue industry-wide impersonation campaigns.

Unfortunately, disruption is not always enough due to the hyper-personalization of modern scams and persistence of these scammers. In light of this, we encourage consumers to keep these five tips in mind to avoid a tech support warranty scam:

    1. If you’re feeling uneasy, pressured or threatened, hang up or don’t respond! A legitimate customer service representative will not pressure you to act quickly, give up personal or financial information, nor engage in any form of threatening, aggressive behavior.
    2. Use caution when it comes to sharing financial information. That means never hand over your financial information to unsolicited callers or emailers even if they have specific information about your device.
    3. Never pay for customer or tech support services with any type of gift card or by wiring funds. Reputable companies, including Dell, will not ask you for these forms of payment.
    4. Don’t download what you don’t know. Avoid unverified websites or downloading and installing software to which unsolicited callers or emailers try directing you.
    5. Remain in control. Never agree to hand over remote control of your computer to any unsolicited caller or emailer to fix an issue you did not report or purchase a warranty from such unsolicited engagements.

If you receive a communication purportedly from Dell that you believe is a scam, report it.

The holidays are a time to focus on friends and family, not worry about fraud. We want to help ensure consumers are prepared to identify and avoid even the most sophisticated of seasonal scams.

John Scimone

About the Author: John Scimone

John Scimone serves as President, Chief Security Officer for Dell Technologies, where he leads the company’s global corporate security and resiliency programs. John’s responsibilities span the full spectrum of strategy, planning and operations, aiding the Dell Technologies businesses in the management of security risk across the physical and cyber domains. He is also charged with the advocacy of business resilience, including crisis management, business continuity and disaster recovery. Before joining Dell Technologies, John served as the Global Chief Information Security Officer for the Sony Group family of companies where he was responsible for building Sony’s first global information security and privacy organization and leading strategy, policy and operations. Prior to joining Sony, he also held a number of leadership positions at the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), including as Director of Security Operations for the Secretary of Defense's communications office, where he led the facility, personnel and cybersecurity programs. John formerly served as a member of a predecessor organization of U.S. Cyber Command, where he led the development of enterprise information security programs that protected information belonging to the DoD’s more than two million employees. John holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Georgia Institute of Technology.