Stopping scams targeting older consumers

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The FTC has a long history of protecting people from scams.  As part of its ongoing efforts to protect people in every community, the FTC recently took steps to stop two schemes harming older adults: a tech support scam and a sweepstakes scam.

This latest tech support scam, which appears to impact older adults, has a lot in common with other scams we’ve seen. Some scammers pretend to be calling from the technical support department of a well-known company. Others send pop-up messages warning you about a problem with your computer. They want you to believe your computer is infected with a virus, or that a hacker is trying to access your computer. It’s all a ploy to get you to pay for bogus technical support you don’t need. Find out how you can help someone you know recognize and avoid a tech support scam.

The other operation appears to target older adults with a sweepstakes scam. The companies behind the scam send mailers that make people think they’ve won a $1 million prize (or more!), and that the recipient only needs to pay a small fee to claim it. Find out how you can help someone you know avoid a prize or sweepstakes scam.

If you think you see a scam, talk with someone. Your story could help someone avoid that scam. Then report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. Your story could help the FTC stop the scammers.

Comments

Thank you for this information. I will be submitting a sweepstakes scam that was sent by mail to my spouse. It was so good I was almost thinking that maybe it was real! My spouse had already been scammed with a tech support scam and paid to have the computer unlocked!

I got sucked in with a pop-up anytime I tried to get online: it said that my computer was blocked and that I had malware and a virus and to call 1-855-979-6480. They offered to cleanup my computer and then offered a lifetime firewall protection. Pretty convincing and I gave them remote access to my computer. I'm just sick! Have cancelled every cc, frozen credit, am changing bank accounts and I don't know what else I need to do. Scary!

Just had same experience, pop-up, computer blocked, call 1-855-979-6480 etc., but stopped short when he had me go to "Log Me In" site so that he could get control of my computer....at that point decided to check the authenticity of technician and tel #; which fortunately led me here, and appreciate what I found. Thanks for corroboration, I was a click away from a hellish ordeal.

My elderly friend just did the same thing yesterday Sherry. She got a pop up message that instructed her not to shut the computer down but to call 855-979-6480. Instead of calling me, she called the number. A 'Paul Goodman' at Extension 260 got her to pay $200.00 and said he'd contact her back within 90 minutes to fix her computer. Then she decided it was time to call me. I instructed her that it was a scam, to call her credit card company and stop all charges for the day and any future charges and to get a new cc number / card from them. As I explained to her, never ever talk to anyone you don't know regarding an unsolicited message that appears on your computer.

I appreciate your emails. Keep up the great work.

The scammers call every day. Thanks to NoMoRobo to help stop most of them.

Good information. Thanks.

How do you know if an IRS letter is a scam or real???

The IRS is using private debt collectors to collect some tax debts. If your debt is put into the program, you will get a letter from the IRS, and then a letter from the private debt collection company. Read more from the IRS about the program.

If you get a letter and you owe federal taxes, or think you might owe, call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions. Or go to the IRS website at irs.gov.

Look up the phone number of the IRS online -- on the IRS website. Then call and talk to someone from the IRS. That's what I did.

I have a question about all the Scan calls & E-mail we get. Is possible for use to send the suspicious 3 s or E-ms to a Trade -Comm.office for tracking? May be other ways too.

I get scam phone calls on my cell phone everyday. I don't answer calls that have unfamiliar numbers but I get voicemails and will listen to these.usually they are blank. Are these scams also?

Careful, scammers can make it look like a local call as well.

I get the same calls all day long even though I’ve registered with the National Do Not Call Registery, now I keep a list of all those numbers and report them back to the National Do Not Call Registery. So far it’s working

It is now commen knowledge that "Donotcall.gov"does not work. Also, they don't refute it.

I've been getting calls twice a day from what looks like a local number; the first 6 digits are identical to my cell number. They change the last 4 digits by one number every call. I block the numbers and they never leave a voce message. So annoying. Thank you for keeping us informed.

I've been getting those too. I live in NC. Turns out they are recorded calls about health insurance. I've had Federal Blue Cross for the past 30 years or so and have no need for more health Insurance. I'm not sure how they got my number or why they chose me.
But I just ignore them.

Thanks for the heads up.

Thank you for posting aabout health insurance scam. I too get this call everyday with instructions to press 1 to speak to representative or 2 to opt out. I do not press anything, just listen to the sme recorded message 2 times a day sometime more.

Good advice. I get calls from a 202 area code or others claiming to be the IRS and that they are going to take legal action against me if I don't pat some back taxes. I am sure some people fall for this.

Yeah Had calls on my computer. And calls concerning student loans. Plus calls concerning me owing IRS back payments. First auto call telling there was a warrant for my arrest then an 800 number to call

Hi.you should look into these 2 date sites I know that they are scamming people like crazy ,they are tagged and hi5 thank you.i have been on both of them ,and every person I have talked to has wanted me to send them money for one reason or another

Please report that to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a secure database that law enforcement uses for investigations. Thank you.

MANY OF THE SWEEPSTAKE SCAMS USE DISCOUNTED USPS MAIL, THAT IS COSTLY TO THE USPS AND THE PEOPLE THEY SERVE. THJ

Got one of those grandchild in trouble calls. My husband asked the caller the 1st name of the GC and asked him to give us my husband's name. Idiot used the wrong names when he was guessing.

Thanks. Appreciate the heads up.

please protect elderly

I did get scammed by one

Thanks for the after it happened expose'

My telephone number has been used by scammers. Why don't you tell me, and all the others whose number has been hijacked what you and our federal government is doing to stop this?

All the numbers are computer generated and all the numbers they are calling are equally computer generated.There is no way for the phone company or the government to really stop it. But I can assure you they aren't using your account/minutes just using something to slap a random number on the call

Between scams sales calls robot calls I feel like my home is being invaded. Other than not having a phone there is no way to escape. Do not call list doesn’t seem to be effective.

I agree with you on the no callers list . I am so sick of that phone ringing I could scream but I didn’t and just turned the ringer off. And then we just hear the answering machine with nothing on it.

This topic is a very timely one for me. As a subscriber to an online news source, for over two weeks each time that I opened a column to read it, the screen disappears and I am looking at a screen that is impossible to get rid of. It’s a scam for sure; I took screenshots each time that it happened to me, and sent them to the news source, requesting help from the IT department. I never received a reply, except for a “customer service representative,” who had no ability to help me- I was told that my screenshots would be sent to the IT department; that never happened. Instead the representative told me to stop sending emails with the screenshots to the news source help support!?

I have gone into my advanced section of my data, and looked for the tag that was in the top of each one of these scamming emails ( they were all different, forcing me to write the information on the top of these emails ), and I have been delighted with not receiving these emails anymore. I was ( and still am ) vexed by the lack of help from the news source; I have always thought that they were better than others. Obviously, I was wrong. Anyway thank you for sending this message to those of us who read your messages all the time.

We often answer the call with "Austin Police dept. How may i direct your call?"

What happens when you answer the phone as the APD? Do you think it might have an effect on callers? At the very least, the ploy must bring you some satisfaction.

Great idea! Must try this one.

When I was working, when I got scammer calls, I would call them back at my work place and cuss them out, at least a few times a day. After about three days of this, the number was disconnected.

Good info, especially the Tech Support scam. You need to log out to get rid of their pop ups. thanks

Thanks to the FTC I figured out the tech support scam. It was the second time for me, though. The scammers are very, very clever. Be careful! Good to know that you just need to turn off your computer to get rid of them.

you should go to new scammers who behave as real commercial foreign companies and then try to cheat our large American banks-they are very specialized and our banks must establish a specialized organization to fight those criminals

I get panic intrusions a couple of times a week. The main problem is getting them off my screen. Any tips? Age 76.

Thanks. Keep up the good work informing the public regarding these scum 'scammers'.

The FTC has been wonderful when I have turned in phone numbers that are probably scams. I do not get calls from them anymore. I think everyone should pay attention to the FTC.

I have reported hundreds of calls to the FTC over the last 4 or 5 years. I still get calls from the same callers I did 4 or 5 years ago. The FTC can't stop the calls or does not want to. I have quit reporting the calls due to it being a waste of time.

Is there any way to go after scammers that keep calling? Everytime I get a call I block it to prevent future calls. However, they keep calling with a one digit area code or phone number change so I have to block that one as well. I can't tell you how many of these calls I keep getting. I received another one yesterday that left me a voicemail while I was driving. (I don't use my phone while in the car). The message left tells me I have a refund coming and to call asap. I had talked to one of those people last month, but he wanted access to my computer. He kept insisting he can't access mine he just needs to walk me through filling out a form. Well finally realized he could see the form as he changed the spelling of my address this form he can see on his end and actually made a correction to my address.He insisted only the computer sees and updates the form, he can't. so he kept insisting.
I too, keep getting calls about student loan forgiveness. I haven't had a student loan since 1987! I am sick and tired of being harrassed by the same people. I'd love to be able to sue for harassment.

I got one telling me my computer needed repairs. I told them I didn't have a computer(I do) and they hung up on me. Another time I was told I owed back taxes. I said I was going to call my CPA and they hung up on me. I got one actually using the local police dept. phone number!

I reported a phone scam...I hope you get them!

Not sure how to report this, but I know I need to let someone know and investigate further.

Here is what happens and I confirmed today.

I get a phone call on my cell from a number in my area code and exchange but not in my contact list. I don't answer. The number was 225-247-7162. Two minutes later I get another phone call same area code and exchange but different last 4 digits. This call resulted in a voice message. I return this call and was told they were returning my call. I believe what happened is that I did not answer phone number #1, so telemarketer then proceeded to call phone number #2 spoofing my phone number. Owner of #2 thought it was me and tried calling me back and I did not answer but called back a couple of minutes later. The telemarketer is spoofing numbers of phones that do not answer!

My friend was scammed by way of Apple, a call can on his Iphone and said that his phone was broke, and to send 200 dollars in iphone cards to them using the code on the back of cards, he did and then they said they found another problem and wanted 400dollars I overheard him talking and told him to hang up as it was a scam, at first he didn't believe me as he was scared that his phone would be messed up. I told him that Apple doesn't do that after we discussed it some more he did as I asked. He was glad of that. We reported this to FTC. We hope you get them but I is a loss cause thank you anyway

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