FTC cracks down on tech support scams
“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.