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FTC cracks down on tech support scams

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screen shot showing "errors" on computer“Your computer is damaged ... we’ll help you fix it.” It’s the latest twist on tech support scams: Scammers sell software online that claims to increase your computer’s performance. They lure you to their websites with pop-up ads or web searches. Then, they tell you to call a phone number to activate or register the software. On the phone, they ask for remote access to your computer and then tell you that your computer has many errors that need to be fixed immediately.

It’s all part of their plan to sell you bogus “security” or “technical support” products or services. Really, your computer is fine. They want to charge you – possibly hundreds of dollars – for software and services that you don’t need and that doesn’t help.

The FTC sued several of these phony tech support companies – New York-based Pairsys, Florida-based Inbound Call Experts (ICE) and Florida-based Vast Tech Support – for misrepresenting that they found security or performance issues on consumers’ computers. At the FTC’s request, three federal judges halted these alleged scams pending trial. 

What can you do to avoid similar tech support scams?

  • Don’t give control of your computer to someone who says they need to activate software. Instead, look carefully at the software instructions to learn how to activate the software yourself.
  • Don’t give control of your computer to someone who calls you out of the blue claiming to be from tech support. Instead, hang up and call the company at a number you know to be correct.
  • Never provide your credit card information, financial information, or passwords to someone who claims to be from tech support.
  • Learn how to protect your computer from malware.



What if you think you might be a victim of one of these tech support scams?

  • If you paid for bogus tech support services or software with a credit card, then call your credit card company to reverse the charges.
  • If you think someone may have accessed your personal or financial information, then learn more about how to lower your risk for identity theft.
  • Get rid of malware that the fraudsters may have installed. Download legitimate security software and delete anything that it finds as a problem.
  • Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use the same passwords for other accounts, then change those too.
  • If you think you may be a victim of a tech support scam, let us know.

The FTC’s website has more information about how to spot and stop tech support scams.


Back in September, while searching online to find the Photography Studio that did my wedding several decades past, I got what looked like an Apple system message saying Safari was compromised and I should stop using it until I called a tech support number. Since I always run with pop-up's blocked, this seemed like an actual Safari warning. I called the number: 1-855-619-0707 thinking it was Apple, and was lured into an "Incidental Computer Fix" by "Superior Tech Help" for $199 (yes they did try to sell me on a 1-year or 3-year package). I feel foolish for allowing them remote access, but I watched most everything they did (ran diagnostics, cleared cookies, caches, and downloaded Sophos...yes I did have to enter my admin password to let them install, tho since changed it). I have an email receipt, which matches my credit card statement, and they are found at . Their Customer Support sent out a warning in November that many impostors were using their name and cold-calling. I thought it was legit, if predatory, but JUST TONIGHT I got a call from "Frederick" from "TecFixNow" (or something like that, I am terrible at discerning Indian accents) who said he had helped me back in September (he knew my name and email address), and wanted to give me a free re-check as their tech's had "found something" on my computer that was a new threat targeting people's online banking, especially in California. I made my excuses being the weekend and asked for his info and would call back on Monday, and he gave me a different number to call: 1-800-311-5954, and advised I not use my Mac for online banking until this was resolved. Not sure how (or if) they "Found something". But I'm curious what info I could get out of him when he, no doubt, calls ME back on Monday. I suspect he phished some data back in Sept, left Superior Tech Help, and is coming back for more.

Meanwhile, time for a complete wipe, new passwords, and new virus/threat software.

I was also facing the same issue like a pop up was there in my system with a number to call on that number.I thought it was some kind of scam so I searched for HP support and Got the number ..The guy sounded Indian and said they are support partner of HP and I asked for the name. It was Support-Nerds and the guy was very humble. So,I gave the remote access and he told me that these pop-ups are sent by some scam and he will fix them for $199.99. I asked that I don't want to pay,so he gave me a year support with that. I had some important work so I gave the details and the Issue was fixed in next 30 minutes. And later when I tried to call the these people were actually there. And 1 thing that I came to know from this experience is that people who call you are scammers rather that people whom we are callling.

We have been getting the calls from 800-135-7575

While doing ordinary work online, somehow my computer froze. Then a blue page came up saying my computer is infected with a virus and I need to call Microsoft Technicians at 1-855-982-3262 and to not shut down my computer or all files will be lost and my computer won't work. Looked like it came from Microsoft. Had a code on it 0x80073b01 or something similar.

I called the number and they asked for thee code dll and I gave it to them. Instantly they were able to send me a box where they asked me to sign in my computer password so they can show me what was wrong and that they would fix it right then. Stupid me fell for it and did exactly that. I saw them going through my computer and when I told them to stop they just tried to distract me with pop-up windows showing me how my computer is infected from outside the network. When they pulled up a file, I'd try to move my cursor to delete that window, they covered the file with another window so I couldn't click out of it. They moved so fast, too. They asked me if I had accounts on the computer, thank god I don't. Told them it's a play computer, nothing important here.

In the end, they told me for $499 they will protect me and my network for 6 years and to please fill out my information for purchase. I told them I can't just do that, I have to ask my husband first. He gave me 2 other phone numbers to use to call him back on and then I noticed in the LogMeIn window I asked him if he would please log out of LogMeIn and the window suggested that the session was over. Hours later, I checked my task manager and sure enough, the program was still running. I stopped it, of course.

I checked and the phone number he gave me to call back on was also on that webpage. I called that number and sure enough, the same guy came on. I did a google maps to look at the address of this so called business and it is just a house. The photo of a tiny house in Florida. I doubt that's where they are.

My computer seems to work fine for now with the exception of when I went to for the free tools of spyware removal, I couldn't download them. My next step is to call my local Microsoft office in my area and see what goes from here. Gosh, I feel stupid.

You can report this to the FTC at The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go into the database.

But still companies are active and daily scamming lots of customer not only in US canda but also in australia and other countries. Is it possible to stop completly this type of scam?

I've been getting calls like the above from an Indian speaking man in the past several months! Today, I got 3 calls. lst call said my computer is compromised, when I asked what Company they from, I GOT NO ANSWER yet just trying to tell me my computer compromised so I said take me off you list and don't call me anymore. 2nd call, Within minutes later, same guy, saying he from Microsoft and my information is being compromised, when I said how do I know you from Microsoft, he hung up the phone. 3rd call, Indian guy, said he from Comcast, he verified my email address actually in which concerned me. I stayed on the line briefly to which he said, open your computer for me and I will prompt you through the process to fix your computer against people that are trying to steal your identity and also are sending crude emails from my email account he said other unknown people getting from my email? He said are you aware of this? Then he asked if I know anyone in NY or CA? he continued to say, hackers got my information from NY or CA and he must fix this problem fro me again asked me to open my computer to go through the prompts to fix the problem. I said if you from Comcast, I'll just write down what you want to tell me on a writing tablet, but I'm not going to open my computer no. I'll then run what you tell me to write down and give it to my own IT Tech. He said sorry mamam, we cannot tell you how to fix computer over the phone when writing down as everything recorded and not secure. I said what's the difference if I open my computer or write what you tell me down instead? I then said, I don't believe you are from Comcast, I believe you are the scammer and he hung up and the call was ended. These people just never give up! Total acam. Scarry part is that he did have my correct email address. I just said I don't have that email in many years! The calls I got today no incoming phone number showed up. So I can't report any number. In any event, everyone should be careful and not give out any information if someone says they are from Microsoft or Comcast,etc,etc.

I just got this, it's disturbing. It appeared be a scam, they claimed to Apple computer contacting me, they said my computer was locked, because of detection of malware and adware on my computer, blah blah blah, and said to call Apple at 877 398 5247. One disturbing thing was that i was not able to use my computer, i was stuck on the fake website in Safari, the website url was soemthing or somethng like that, and i could not get off of that page with the warning alert thing on it,i couldn't bring another webpage to the front, neither in safari or in another program. i wanted to google this apparent scam, but they had done something were my computer was "locked" and i couldn't us it. Then, i force quit Safari. Then i started back up again and an even more elaborate scam page came up, with a very long alert message, repetitively talking about the dangers this posed to me, immediate dangers and i had to call "Apple" at the same number. This alert was agianst the background of a page that on it, Powered By Apple, with a big white Apple log on it. And again, i couldn't use the Safari browser, i was stuck on this page. I opened Chrome and it showed an odd page about virus protection on the the page that opened. Then i was able to get google and then i found this discussion.
I also, against my better judgement, called the scam number. First i turned off my caller ID. i wanted to see if it was in fact an Apple number. Instead of "Thank you for Calling Apple on the auto answer voice," it had a more generic "Please hold for the next available agent. So, i hung up, feeling certain it wasn't Apple. Then almost immediately, my phone rang, with caller ID still turned off, and it was an Indian sounding guy, and when i asked why he was on my phone, he said that he had gotten a call from me but he wasn't able take the call and now he was calling back to find out what i wanted. i said that i don't know who he is or why he's calling. He said "We are Premium Technical Support." i asked why he was calling me. i said why? He said "I don't know, maybe you got a message on your computer?" I said that i got a message telling me to call Apple with this number and i said "you're not Apple." He said 'yes, we are a company that works with Apple to do technical support." So i said, "OK, i will call Apple to check on this and will call you back." He immediately hung up. Unfortunately, every time i try to re-open Safari, it opens that same scam page as the top page and i can't get to any other page. They are literally blocking and locking up my browser so that i can't use it at all. I will keep playing with this, i guess ill try rebooting the computer, this makes me so mad, one, that they have made my browser not usable and i am going to lose stuff i was working on, or have already lost it, and two, they got my caller ID even though i had it blocked. Who do i report thiese people to? Is there some kind of phone police? They are clearly not in this country, apparently in India because the website ends in .in and the guy's accent sounds indian. i just want to report them to whoever might be able to look into them, if possible.

You can report this to the FTC at The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go into the database.

my family from canada i usually take remote of their computer & do the cleanup & chk their computer for problems & help them out with software but today i took remote there was a adware or malware in your computer system your computer is locked blah .... .... To fix dial toll free number 1877 398 5247 well if I or you having same pop up / ransom ware u call this number it will be a sales pitch why don't FTC do something abt it

You can tell the FTC about the problem you had. Report this to the FTC at The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Blog comments don't go into the database.


I have received calls from these elusive Indian scammers several times within the past month. Complained to the FTC about it, they're powerless to stop them because the calls are from overseas. Finally called my phone company, who placed a blocking device on my phone to block one number. However, they hide behind another NYC area code number to call me, and I block that, although I told the guy he had the wrong number when he called. The area codes are 212 and 646. I feel that this is more than a standard crime. It's terrorism, and the perpetrators have to be brought to justice.

I couldn't agree more -- it IS terrorism. But it's not just international; it's also domestic. All they need to destroy your life is a free account with Tor. Then no one, not even the FTC, can help you.

You can add to your list of scammers. Their name is included in blue screen popups, and the number on their website leads to "Indian accent" Microsoft technicians who will sell you free MacAfee software for $100.

I am so tired of these calls! Why can't they stop them!

Number from a fake malware scam site. It claims your computer is infected and plays some MP3 in background with really loud, shrilly voice, and tries to convince you to call this number. Don't do it! They'll try to pull the security alert scam - good thing I block Javascript by default! If you look for "Your personal and financial information might be at risk" on Google, you find tons of examples of this and people reporting it! BTW: "CAPTCHA session reuse attack detected"?

My iPad just showed the blue screen virus "debug browser spyware 895-system 32.exe." It said contact apple support at 855.866.8528. I did and some guy from India tried to get my credit card "to fix the problem". I hung up... but beware that this happens on iPads too.

We just experienced the exact scam as everyone else, a company claiming to be Microsoft and then referring us to SAPPHIRE SOFTWARE SOLUTIONS (888-573-4222)to fix our infected laptop. We fell for it and paid them $199. We are now working with our credit card company to dispute this transaction. Feel so stupid we were sucked in to believe this was real! We're smarter than that! Lesson learned. We will be reporting this to the FTC as well.

I was browsing in Chrome when I got a pop-up warning that my Surface 3 had a virus. Several warnings and a loud bell. One said to call 855-527-6316 for MS approved technician to help fix the problem. I could not turn off the loud bell or exit any of the error windows. I called the number and allowed the technician to remotely access my computer. He told me I needed to purchase software "Realtime Protection" from Best Buy for $120 and I needed an FSO for $300. I became suspicious and told him I needed to call him back later. He gave me a call-back number 855-580-0831. Restarted my laptop. It booted OK. I'm concerned that he did harm to my tablet or stole information or installed a virus. I store all my files in the "cloud", and use Windows 10 Defender so I think my financial and credit card information is safe. I do not allow any browsers or online stores to save any passwords. I feel stupid that I was so gullible. The pop-ups looked legit. The "tech" guy was really slick but not too slick to make me suspicious -- at first. I would like to report this to the FTC, but not sure, since I didn't suffer any financial damage.

I received a call today from these same people calling to say they were from Viatitech Support.

Caller: Jack Root (when I refused to answer after hanging up after being scammed: he referred to himself as Chris Martis in the voicemail with the number:18006805162)

Recently I had bought internet security because my computer was having major issues and still is. Like a gullible fish I took the bait. He was offering to install Microsoft Defender onto my computer to fix issues that were pinged to their tech support. After being ripped 100 He took control of my computer sent a email to himself about me willfully buying the item and proceeded to mess with and install things onto my computer! I am disappointed in myself for not going with my gut feelings, and I have immediately canceled my card, changed my passwords, and have logged a complaint to FTC.

I received a call today saying they were from Dell support. They knew all the information about my laptop. Was Dell hacked? They said my IP address was compromised and being used by scammers around the world. He wanted me to give him access to my computer. I said no and hung up.

I fell for this scam. It was a company names Ewinsoftech that scammed me out of $100.00. I disputed the transaction, got a new debit card, and reported this incident already. Although, what can they do with my information (they didn't get my ssn) and how can I prevent it?

You can read about what to do if your information was lost or exposed.

This guy with number of 844-887-3598 is a scammer. Block his nnumber

Hi, I spoke to Kaushik on the phone and let him take over my computer. I was suspicious when he used a program called any desk to do it. He swears he did not steal any info from my computer, but i can not be sure.

This article tells what to do if you may have allowed a criminal to have access to your computer.

If you bought in to their scam before, you will be on their calling list. I blocked all of their numbers, pretended to be someone else without a computer. Finally, they called on my private home line, which infuriated me and I told them never to call this number again. Luckily when I was scammed about a year ago, I kept all of the information of the company. It doesn't matter what the company name is, they change it frequently. I called the one of the numbers listed, got Kathleen, and asked her to take me off their calling list. She said she, we shall see!!!

tech support scam - 18883113841. Please beware

Got a call from 1 888 311 3841 claiming they are Dell Tech support

Hi FTC, I would appreciate if you could modify the information to include above what consumers who were scammed need to be aware of, to protect themselves (a WHAT TO DO IF), as you are probably in the best position to know, since you get the related complaints.

For instance, vene if one changes all passwords to relevant account immediately afterward, has there been any indication that while those thieves had control over the scammed individuals' computers, files were stolen, which led to subsequent ID theft. So basically, depending on how far the scam went, what additional precautins do the victims have to take. Delete the downloaded file for the remotecontrol acccess, I guess that's obvious, in my case, it was in the downloads folder. Virusscan the computer, malware scan the computer, obvious. Reformat and reinstall entire computer? Engage ID theft monitoring service?

If you think someone may have accessed your personal or financial information, then learn more about how to lower your risk for identity theft.

Get rid of malware that the fraudsters may have installed. Download legitimate security software and delete anything that it finds as a problem.

Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use the same passwords for other accounts, then change those too.

Why doesn't the FBI or interpol close down these scams (just got one of the fake IRS calls this morning).....they always use indians probably calling from india via a switcher in the US.....which is why it's difficult to shut them down, but it's gotta be an international crime....get interpol's very annoying...

I have been getting phone call the person will not give their name they said that they are from the credit bureau and they said that they are going to get warranty for me if I don't call the telephone number back. I want to know how I can stop these calls.

If you're getting multiple calls from the same number, you could try call blocking. This FTC article has information about call blocking. You can also call your phone service provider and ask if it offers call blocking.

A senior friend of mine, who has a computer was called by a computer tech scammer. When she was called and asked to get on her computer, she would say "what computer? I'm 83 years old and don't have a computer." After a couple of conversations like this, the scammers quit calling, ha ha ha ha.

If you gave them access to your computer, and you still have any access to your computer, immediately turn off Remote Access. You can Google how to do this for your computer setup. If you upset them and they still have access to your computer, they can destroy it!

I logged on to my computer Oct 8, 2016 and the screen had stuff flying all over. It was replaced by a notice to call 877-694-1841 and since I could not move the cursor, I called.

They claimed to be Microsoft Techs, very thick accents and without thinking it through, they took control of my computer and after about 2 hours later it was "fixed". Two of the names I wrote down was Bob Sullivan and Steve Jerry with accents. They "gave" me a guarantee of a year of $444.72. Does anyone know if this legit? I've already called the credit card company and my bank to see if I can alert them that this may be a scam. I can't believe I was so gullible.

It's likely that this is a scam. Please report it to the FTC at The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

About 15 minutes ago, a pop-up tech support from "microSoft" popped up. I finally was able to get to this screen to report it.

Since these scams are clearly a form of extortion, I don't understand why Federal agencies continue to allow them to exist. It seems obvious to me that it would be very easy to identify, arrest and prosecute these scum scammers. Some of these are now attached to facebook pages as "sponsored links" on the sidebar. Its time we shut down this continued practice once and for all - come on Feds DO YOUR JOB!

hi i was victim of this scammer.
i have tried to get my money back but my bankers want to know what those scammers promised to install in my computer so that the bankers can claim the money back. but i forgot what they even promised me to have installed into my pc. somebody help please, i have some time to call back my bankers about it.

Has anyone dealt with MyTechAdvise. I called them a couple of months ago and they told me that Norton Security didn't protect your computer if you had windows 10. Well, I fell for it and paid for 5 years protection with unlimited support. I felt that they were legit. Now tonight I got a pop-up that my computer had been blocked and to call a certain number. I got someone with an Indian accent who said his name was Jack Wilson (lol)from something called www. webio-tech-help. He told me that MyTechAdvise was bogus and he wanted to fix my computer for $127.95. So I called MyTechAdvise (which I should have done in the first place) and they cleaned out my computer by using Malwarebytes which is a free program. They seem to be helping me but I'm still not sure if I didn't pay for something I didn't need. The tech said that if you get the pop-up "Your computer has been locked..." you should just re-boot the computer. Any thoughts and/or advice?

This FTC article has information about malware and tips about what to do if someone installed malware on your computer.

My computer just froze with a box with a # to call so I did because it was completely frozen. They charged me $189.99 to fix it and take mu security off and put some other on. The next day another "tech" called and said I needed this $500.00 software to keep it from doing that again. I told him no-just put McAfee back on. I called the bank the next day and cancelled my debit card and filed a claim. When I tired to call the # back the call was rejected. I finally got another # off the internet and they told me they would refund y money if I would withdraw the claim! They all had heavy accents-one guy I could not even understand.

Unfortunately, my father fell victim to this same scam earlier this month.... After speaking with him today, I learned that while he was on his health insurance's dashboard - a pop up came OUT OF NOWHERE - claiming that he had a virus and to call the 1-800 # immediately. He ultimately was scammed out of $500 for a two year service contract. My father is elderly and is completely not familiar with computers - so when he saw the pop up claiming a virus - he panicking and called immediately.
The companies he spoke to were Webroot and Yes Tech - so beware!! My father won't take the initiative to have this resolved, so Im going to try and do anything to try and get this money back.

Thank you all for your help in the recent onslaught on telemarketing and unwanted solicitation calls. Live PC Solutions is still calling despite my being on the no call list, blocking unknown numbers, and every other precaution available to me. I'm once again reporting them to the FTC, and I urge everyone who has fallen victim or been targeted by them, to do the same while the agency is still available for the protection of the individual against dangerous schemes.


I'm AMAZED at how many people fall for this type of scam... I mean come on where is the common sense? Anyways, why are the SAME phone numbers still in operation? I've been watching youtube videos on people pranking the Scam phone number, and the same numbers have been around for YEARS, How many people need to get scammed before this is shut down? Where are you at FTC?

I just filed a report with the FTC against Geek Backer LLC and also filed a scam report with Microsoft Tech Support. Apparently, Geek Backer masquerades as or are in collusion with scammers who pretend they're Microsoft Support. Either Geek Backer or the 3rd party scammers they're working with use malware to put a pop-up window that looks like a valid Microsoft Support Web page on my web browser telling me that my computer was being blocked and would be disabled because it had been compromised and would mess up Microsoft's servers. At the bottom was an 844 area code number and under that was a legit-looking logo indicating that it was Microsoft support. I was in the middle of something and distracted and didn't pay close enough attention, so stupidly called the 844 number. A woman with a thick foreign accent asked for the error code on the message and then transferred me to a "Senior Technical Support Engineer" who also had a thick foreign accent. While I watched, he ran some diagnostics and pointed out the message in my command prompt: "trojan horse.... gateway". He told me that it wasn't my computer but rather my whole home network and all the devices connected to the home network that were compromised, then proceeded to do a netstat -p which showed some strings of alpha-numerics in the Foreign Address column. The "senior tech support engineer" told me that those strings meant Russian hackers and that I had to get the problem fixed and that since Microsoft doesn't deal with network issues, he was transferring me to Geek Backer LLC. I challenged him all the way not only because I have a secure router with high encryption but also because I felt that either my Internet provider or Best Buy's Geek Squad could deal with the problem. Somehow, he convinced me that they couldn't and that Geek Backer LLC is CISCO-certified. He also told me that it would cost me $700 to fix because it was a lengthy process, which I challenged. When he switched me to someone at Geek Backer, they quoted me a price of $999 and they switched me back to the other scammer when I challenged the price quote discrepancy, who then confirmed that it's $700 with a senior discount. This is a total scam because how do they know if someone is a senior? Apparently Geek Backer LLC preys on senior citizens. And, the first set of scammers I dealt with are very likely part of Geek Backer and tell you it's a network problem in order to drum up business for Geek Backer. Unfortunately, I stupidly allowed Geek Backer to remotely work on my computer, but after googling and realizing I had been scammed,I demanded that they get off of my computer immediately because I knew they were a scam, which the tech argued with me about. The tech then switched me to a supervisor who argued with me about cancelling. I told him that this is a scam and to get off of my computer immediately. I also told him that I'm not paying them a cent. The supervisor, who like all of the technicians, etc, has a thick foreign accent, then lowered the price to $199.99 because he stated that their technician had spent time working on my computer. I've even gotten a bill from them, but will ignore it on the advice of a real Microsoft Support technician who had to clean up my computer. I watched the real MS Support technician clean up my computer. He pointed out to me and got rid of the malware and spyware and other crap that the Geek Backer LLC tech put on my computer that could have either screwed up or slowed my computer down or even caused it to crash or worse. Fortunately, Geek Backer LLC asks you to pay by check, not credit card. So, they don't have my credit card info, and since I'm not paying them anything, they won't have my checking account info. either. I believe Geek Backer LLC has people pay by check, rather than credit card, because with a credit card,it takes awhile for payment to clear, and when you realize you've been scammed, the credit card company can stop payment. But with a check, it goes through immediately and there's no way to recoup the money since the transaction happens quickly. And fortunately, I don't keep financial info on my computer, and I watched the Geek Backer tech the whole time she was working on my computer and didn't see her clicking on files, etc. But, apparently she planted some malware, spyware, adware, etc on my computer, so easily could have retrieved info about me. But, the MS tech found the stuff that had been injected (he went deep into the operating system to find things) and deleted/cleaned it all out. So, hopefully, he didn't miss anything.

So, beware of Geek Backer LLC-- they are scammers or use 3rd party scammers as a front in order to drum up business. If you get a pop-up message on your browser from Microsoft, it's a scam because Microsoft doesn't do this. Ignore the message, but take a screenshot of it and report it to both Microsoft and to FTC.

I too was hacked exactly as described when I called Malawarebytes and then the next day Microsoft 800 number. Both answered ny Indians and asked for remote access. Am terrified now.They are messing with my computer constantly and calling all the time.


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