Scams When Using a Search Engine

You are in the middle of printing invitations to an upcoming birthday party and suddenly the printer stops working. You check the paper tray, pull open the ink drawer and replace ink, yet are unable to get it fixed. You decide to give the tech support number a call for some help.

You go online and use your favorite search engine and type in “hp printer support number” (or whatever printer you may have), and suddenly are faced with a ton of choices! Which one is correct? One of them? All of them?

What you see on a simple search for a support number is actually quite deceptive. This is not because of the actual printer manufacturer themselves, but unscrupulous practices from companies that are not often even in the United States.

Here’s a couple screen shots taken from both Google and Bing with the search term “hp printer support number”. Both are the first results that would come up for a consumer.  On the Bing search I count SEVEN different phone numbers, which I’ve circled in red. On the Google search there are TWELVE, also circled in red.

NONE of these numbers are for the official company HP. Every single one leads you to a company other than HP, some that are not even based in the United States.

Bing Search HP Support

Bing Search HP Support

Google Search HP Support

Google Search HP Support

What happens when you call one of these companies then? Some may immediately want a credit card to bill you for tech support, others may want to install a remote application to access your computer to provide their support. From here, they will suggest they run tools and make sure your computer is up to date, or suggest that possibly you have a virus or errors on the computer that’s causing your printer to not work.

The next thing you know, they are running their “tools” and you watch the flashing screen and red text exclaiming you have viruses and errors. It may look something like this:



Then they will suddenly demand payment for them to clean up the computer, or fix your initial problem – remember what that was? Oh yes, the printer! You can see how they suck you into this terrible scam.

Even if you don’t pay, and decide to hang up the phone right then, they’ve now put their software on your computer, which often disables your antivirus, and continues to cause problems until it is removed. Or they’ve baited you into one of their “contracts” paying either yearly or monthly, and nearly impossible to get out of, or you find they do nothing to help in the long run.

Going back to the original problem, that printer that suddenly decided to stop printing, what is a consumer to do? We have a few ideas for you:

  1. If you are sure your printer is under warranty, you can try to contact the manufacturer directly. Instead of searching for a support phone number through a search engine, go directly to their website instead and find their support information that way. Some may even have FAQ resources to read through, so that you can attempt to fix the problem on your own, at no cost to you.
  2. Call a known and familiar company like GeeksAKnockin’!

We’d also like to point out this same advice goes for any sort of support you might be looking for online. If you look for support numbers by doing a search most of the time the numbers listed are fake. Most companies tend to bury their support numbers on their websites to make the consumer search a bit for them, but these fake companies have taken full advantage of this hassle and used search engines to get their numbers in the open, hoping the consumer won’t try to go any further and just call them. Best advice is to always go to the website of the company you are trying to locate, or refer to your manual or paperwork to find contact information.

In a future blog we’ll provide a list of working links to some of the major tech companies for your use. Please let us know of any specific ones you’d like us to include and we’ll do our best to help you with that!

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