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Keep tech support strangers out of your computer

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If you need tech help with your computer, where do you go? Most of us probably search online. But your online search can lead you straight to scammers who scare you into thinking your computer is in dire need of repair...and then sell you costly security software that you don't need.

That’s just what happened in the FTC’s lawsuit against Elite IT Partners, Inc., announced today as part of a massive law enforcement sweep. According to the complaint, Elite bought key words on Google that let them target people searching for how to recover lost passwords. You’d fill out an online form and give your contact information. Then, says the FTC, Elite’s telemarketers would call and ask to get online access to your computer – supposedly to check for problems. Once they were in, the caller would show you fake “evidence” of viruses or other threats that, they said, had to be removed right away.

Then came the sales pitches. Elite allegedly got people – many of them older adults – to pay hundreds of dollars for unnecessary repairs and maintenance programs. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are some steps you can take:

  • If you’re looking for tech support, go to a company you know and trust, or get help from a knowledgeable friend or family member. If you search online for help, search on the company name plus “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.”
  • If you get a phone call you didn’t expect from someone who says there’s a problem with your computer, hang up.
  • Never call a number in a pop-up that warns you of computer problems. Real security warnings will never ask you to call a phone number.
  • If you think there’s a problem with your computer, update its security software and run a scan.

If you spot a tech support scam, tell the FTC: www.ftc.gov/complaint. And learn more at www.ftc.gov/techsupportscams.

 

Comments

I need serious help getting my computer and iPhone cleared of scammers and hackers who have access to my social security number. Where do I go for this? I’ve been to Apple and Simply Mac, who wipes my computer with no success.
Please help.

If  your phone and computer have computer viruses or other problems, you could get help from a retail store or the manufacturer. You could update the security software you have on the devices. You could delete problems the security software finds on your devices.

If you continue to have problems with people mis-using your Social Security number, you can report identity theft at www.IdentityTheft.gov. You can report identity theft online, or call 1-877-438-4338.

I filed a complaint on Jan 28th against an IT scammer and still have heard nothing. Where do I go to get an answer?

If you reported a problem to the FTC at FTC.gov/Complaint, and you gave your email address, you should get an email reply that says we received your complaint. The reply might include a link to some FTC consumer education material to help you avoid problems in the future. The FTC does not handle individual cases.

The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. If the FTC or other law enforcement agencies use your information for an investigation or law enforcement matter, they can't tell you about an active investigation or law enforcement matter.

If your computer has been wiped clean - and assuming you didn't continue to patronize the sites that messed you up in the first place, then the problem is not your computer - the problem is that your SSN is now vulnerable. Do as the other person suggested and report your identity theft issue - not your computer.

Thanks again, pop up windows are a true target, Ex: "Call number xxx.xxx.xxx., and leave your computer on" is a for sure sign. Once I turned off my computer called the "The Tech Support" number, ask what is your company name? "Tech Support" me " I don't have a contract with any "Tech Support" company, think maybe your are a scammer. Them "hung Up"

Good for you people! There are many other scams that need to be investigated and shut down. Seems like scammers with India accents are very active.

I was bilked out of a lot of money from a company named Yogi. I thought they were legitimate but after months of dealing with them, I realized that they were cheating me out of my money and doing things to my computer so that I would have to call them back to correct the problem.

This video is very informative and I had an incident also ...

I made a scam complaint a couple of weeks to a month ago and I haven't heard anything back yet.. Just curious whats going on. I had another call and I told him about my "scammer" and he hung up on me. Fairly suspicious... Thank you! Linda Cox

A safety strategy I have used is to log on to my computer with a non-administrator account. This prevents a hacker from installing software without your entering the administrator's password. When I have got those "Your computer is infected" messages, I do a CTRL-ALT-DEL and click "shut down". It has always worked so far.

I had a neighbor who fell for a scam that his computer was infected. Once I got a call that someone said they were from Microsoft and I had a virus. I told the woman I don't own a computer. That made her stammer. Of course I did but I wasn't going to let her know that. She hung up. I once did call Microsoft about a problem and they wanted $200 to fix it and take control of my computer. I said no. I searched online and found how to fix the problem myself without any help.

I respond only to ones I know and do no card or bank activity online. When I find a few or large number of STRANGE items, I send them to Google and/or Comcast to tell them to remove these and find out where they belong. It's been successful, so far.

I have had an outfit call several times saying they were from Apple. Of course they aren't. I did let them on sight once but I did not pay. Now I know it is a scam but they frequently call back.

I'm always careful online, but somewhat confused about security programs. A letter from a support site said "delete your anti-virus program & broken shortcuts, uninstall programs not used, just keep Windows defender & a firewall". Doesn't sound like enough protection, though. ??

I had major problems with Dell computer. They never gave me back my insurance on the Dell computer that I had until 2020. I dropped them last year because every so often there was a virus detected. Until my computer just went arwy and they gave me a phone number to call for a tech to come here. But when I looked up on the phone number they gave me----it said high potential for a scam. They wanted to come to my house and make me think they were fixing my computer when they'd be installing malicious software. Dell. Should be watched. Just because they are such a big name---i got ripped off of about $192.00. Don't let them take control of your screen!

I've since deleted my Facebook account, but once when I got a notice that my Facebook password had been breached, I went online to call tech support for Facebook. Even though the internet said I was clicking onto a Facebook help site, it wasn't true. I ended up being scammed, but figured it out in time for my credit card company to delete the charges that were added to my account. I tried to contact Facebook warning them that someone was using their name to scam people. They are impossible to contact. I noticed months later that the same website was still there. Shame on Facebook. I'm glad I'm no longer active with them.

Thank you for allerting us.

Personally I use the local computer shop for any needed repairs and get a great discount. As for passwords, keeping a 'password book', which is simply a small bound book found in any discount place, can be used to write down passwords and important info about any accounts. After all this time and repeated warnings there are folks still getting scammed and robbed by online and telephone thieves.

A great deal of calls saying my Social security number is being used I just hang up and report the number If It was real I would have a message or something in the mail

can I trust you too?

Change your passwords often. Get good protection on your PC.

Don't buy Avast software, I had it, wanted $300.00 to uninstall in. Still get invoices from them . not paying a dime.

These people called me one time and told me they were from "Windows." I said, you mean Microsoft?..lol so stupid. Please alert your elderly family, relatives and friends and neighbors because these people think we are really stupid. I once told a woman that straight to her face as she was trying to scam me, either with SSA or IRS. I said, you people must think us Americans are pretty stupid. She said yes we do. I told her to get a regular job like the rest of us and quit trying to scam.

Been scammed twice. Protecaid and InfoTech were the so-called company names. At first I thought they were the same company. They bilked me out of $1500 total. Bad on me for falling for their scam. Was still getting calls up till last month. I asked them to prove they were legit but the couldn’t. Not too worried about the cash I lost but do worry about those type getting into my finances and personal stuff. Still get occasional fake notifications of breaches on the computer but just shut it down. I am now more vigilant to such scams. Too bad we have to put up with such IT invasions of our privacy.

I, too, was scammed out of $300. It's embarrassing but empowering to let others know, make them aware. Now I know better.

Used a company called Geek Advisors/San Diego, Calif./Harry Smith or Carl Williams callers/threatedto sent me a little "gift" card in the mail if I didn't pay them $300. Had already got into my Bank account and tried to empty it out, bank froze my account becase I had a loan...Do not answer 1-855-916-6111...

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