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.

Comments

I have had these calls several times over the past year-some even claim they are with microsoft. I fell for it one time and they added tons of viruses and then wanted me to pay 499.99 I just hung up the phone and shutdown my system

I just hung up from a scammer of this nature. After telling him I wasn't falling for this, he began saying sexually disgusting things to me like I have never heard before! I told him I was reporting to the FCC, but he just laughed. Went to make a call a few minutes later and he was still on my line and erupted into even more filth. I have the number he called from, but I don't know where to turn it in. Or if it would help. Anyone know?

I started with my local police department. They referred me to Homeland Security, and that is where I obtained help. Homeland Security referred me also to the Federal Trade Commission. This is a good way to combat these people who are nothing better than pond scum.

Why do you feel a need to insult pond scum?

Look up & call the FTC.

Yes, the number does help the FCC they are blocking the number now. I have received the same call many times and after I argue about them miss using Microsoft brand and license they cussed me out too.

Wow, I just had the same issue with a guy named "stephen" from a company called Tech Vantedge. This guy called me names like you wouldn't beleive. Just filed a complaint with FTC.

I TOO, HAVE FALLEN VICTIM TO THESE SCAM ARTISTS! THEY HAVE TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF ME TWICE. I REPORTED THEM MYSELF. I HAD A CALL FROM THEM JUST THE OTHER DAY, I ANSWERED THE PHONE, PLACED IT ON SPEAKER AND JUST LET THEM TALK TO THE AIR. FUNNY THING ABOUT THEM IS, THEY ARE ALL THE SAME NATIONALITY, THEY ALL CALL YOU SAYING THEY ARE SO-AND-SO, AND THEY ALL SOUND JUST ALIKE! MICHAEL WAS THE ONE I GOT THAT BOTHERED ME THE MOST. WE HAD HEATED CONVERSATIONS EVERY TIME THEY CALLED ME. LIKE A DUMMY, THE VERY FIRST TIME THEY CALLED ME, I FELL VICTIM TO THEM BECAUSE I WAS HAVING ISSUES WITH MY COMPUTER, BUT IT WAS NOTHING THEY WOULD FIX, IT WAS JUST THEY'RE WAY OF GETTING MY INFORMATION. I HAD TO CHANGE A LOT OF PASSWORDS AFTER THAT FIRST TIME OF BEING STUPID!

Well it seems to get worse with our current administration. People have got to speak up, start writing and calling your idiot congress and senators. The government spends so much wasted time and big time money on projects that can wait or maybe not even needed. People need to wake up and think, if we can put a man on the moon, run cars with no gas and all the other great things we do but we cannot stop this? We have to go through a darn bunch of senseless morons who dont seem to care. Very upsetting to me. What are we getting for or taxes? Close to nothing. There needs to be a panel constructed to make these decisions and get it out of our political morons need to step away.

You have no idea how this works. Even if the government were to launch a full scale investigation on this, they still can't pinpoint where the calls are coming from. These are folks who are using software to automatically dial phone numbers and have software to mask incoming calls. The person calling you is most likely some poor Indian who is trying to make money to eat. The IT guy is at a different location and most likely can't be tracked.

First, anything can be tracked. Where it gets fun is when they start using a proxy through a country that doesn't have agreements to hand such information over. It is kind of like spam email; if they edit the header to look like something else, the email STILL had to originate somewhere to get there.

The issue i have with all of this is that the people in the higher levels of government really do not care about the every day man. That is the real problem. Solve one issue and the other gets solved automatically

The govt are trying even the FBI are often coming in my country .

Someone needs to educate them that eating money is NOT a nutritious choice!

Many times, when I get these calls, I try to talk to them about what the job situation is where they live and ask if they would like help getting a job where they are not scamming people. Some of them listen carefully while others revert to the name calling and vulgar talk.

Why do conservatives find it necessary to turn everything into a political discussion? This has absolutely NOTHING TO DO with politics, Washington, D.C., or the "current administration." Use some intelligence and stop acting on all your fears, prejudices, and inadequacies for once in your life.

These people are THIEVES. Plain and simple. Thieves have been around prior to the George Washington administration and will still be here long after we're gone. Take your ax somewhere else and grind it.

I applaud your comment, it's right on target. 2/11/2017 Caller ID gave name as Alvin Smith 423 348-6454 claimed my computer was infected & downloading dangerous information & he wanted to scan my computer. I spoke to a supervisor and told him to put me on the do not call list and to never call this number again then I hung up. How can we block and report these people from calling my home phone? I called the number recorded on my phone (423 348-6454) and got the message "You've reached a number that has been disconnected or is no loner in service. If you wish to make a call, please hang up and try again". This just another scam.

I was just reading all the comments and your comment caught my eye since you mentioned the name Alvin Smith. I currently have Norton security on my laptops and I thought I was calling Norton to assistance but actually was speaking to a scammer (his name was Alvin Smith)and allowed him access to my computer and I now am locked out of it. I did not call him back knowing he will just ask me for money for the password to get back into my computer. Norton can not help me so my lap top along with all my sons college school work is lost.
Any advice would be appreciated.

Are you taking steps to get rid of malware? Follow the link for tips, or watch this video.

So true, they are just crooks. Had one on my computer,today, said my computer is locked until I called them. I did call them from a locked phone, it has no Id or caller Id. I told him to remove the lock now or I will look hin up and take measures into my own hand. He mouthed off to me with some bad comments, I told him my job is to find scammers, have 50+ years experience. I will find you, I have your number. The lock was taken off at that time and he hung up.

Don't tell me you're blaming Pres.Obama.

just got call from 457-561-0916, i was outside and my elderly father took the call, i stood at the garage door listening, dad told him he doesn't do computers and that his son does. got a return number and a name. and he wrote down their reason they called, "your son needs to call us immediately because someone is trying to hack into his computer." I walked in and read the note, i was ticked off for one that my dad would even talk to these guys for one, I've pleaded with him not to. Then saw another number, 800 903 1361. And a name, Jack Dremmel. Wasn't that leslie neilsons name of his character in the spoof cop movie? So i called back, some india sounding guy answered the phone, i could hear many foreign voices in the background, not talking english. I asked for jack dremmell, he pretended to transfer me, the phone never losing that background noise. Then the same guy came back on with a british or australian fake accent and proceeded to tell me that microsoft sent a warning to his company that someone is trying to hack into my computer, well for one, I have a mac and told him that would be pretty hard to do. I hung up on him but felt compelled to follow up on this thing.

This just happened to me. 12/02/2014. Call the Federal Trade Commission. 1-877-382-4357. Claimed they were Microsoft. Were furious when I would not disclose my credit card information. They filled my computer with Malware and viruses. Then wanted $200 to remove them!! Shut your computer down. Change all passwords.

I just let loose with a stream of the standard cuss words and blew a whistle in the phone and hung up.

I do the same,except I use an air-horn ;-)

I was also targeted recently online and I had to do a system restore to get rid of the malware as well as malware scans! I thought I was in the clear and I received a phone call from windows tech support on my home line! NOT! Very savvy scammers! BEWARE!

I received a call from 929-232-2804 call about 2pm today, saying the caller was from "Windows" and that my computer is generating errors. I told the caller I know this is a scam and hung up on her. I have received 5 more calls from the same number in the last 4 hours, with no voice on the other end, it just disconnects.

Just got the same call 11/13/2015. He didn't ask for money. He wanted two things: 1) for me to make changes to my computer (I said no) and 2) my permission for him to disconnect me from their server. He was so insistent about getting my permission that it gave me pause (hmm, maybe there is something real here). He also told me to make my decision quickly because he had to get to other customers. This "permission" aspect was a new twist, because it would seem to be a waste of their time.

I am a solicitor for a company that raises funds for multiple charities, so I'm aware of how telephone soliciting works to some degree. When these calls come I tell him take me off the list, do not call this number, etc. My concern is for every 50 or maybe less no's these guys get. They are also getting many yes's. It's probably a full time job for them, which means every hour there scamming a number of people. They need to be stopped, and charged legally.

But.... if you know they are a scammer - you can keep them spinning and save a person who might fall victim

Well… I just wanted to add my 2 cents worth to this, & also do a throw out just in case someone else comes along with this company & has the same problem. Starting back in August/September of 2014, I was contacted by a company that claimed that they were Windows Tech Support. It was the holiday weekend, & they got a hold me saying that my computer pinged them saying that there was something seriously wrong with it. Up to a few years ago, I used to work in a radio station, & worked with computers that were much more complex than your standard PC. I had a # of programs running for protection… but 1 of my programs expired & I didn’t have the money at the time to update the program. It was the holiday weekend, & my check didn’t clear with the bank yet & I didn’t want to charge anything until I had cash in hand. I have been living with my mother for the last few years because I had come down with cancer, & I didn’t have any other place that I could stay. At time, there was somebody else that was living with us that wanted to use the computer to look for jobs… & I had a problem with him because instead of looking for work… he was looking at free porn. And loaded a whole bunch of stuff into the computer that he shouldn’t have. I fixed all the problems that he created, but when I was contacted by these scammers; it was something that I pretty much believed because of how all these electronic devices are connected & exchange data with each other without us really knowing. Like your smart-meter on the side of your house. So it made sense to me that my computer could have sent something.

I didn’t have a problem with them infecting my computer. That ended up being safe. But they did get a hold of my credit card. Which was canceled by the bank a couple days later because someone had used it to charge a membership at some North African dating site. I had gotten a hold of Microsoft themselves… & they looked over my computer… which was okay in the end. Microsoft couldn’t find any malware. But the scammers that I was dealing with seemed to be targeting bank accounts & cards as their main M.O. What they did with me is that they bought a legit program (Like Norton, McFee), & use it to get some card #... & continue billing it.

When I filed my fraud claim with the bank… the teller that I was working with told me that this was something that had been going on in the neighborhood for the a # of months. I filled a fraud claim with them because of the fact that they kept trying to bill me, & I just simply reversed my charges. She had told me that she had closed 15 separate accounts in 1 week because of guys like this. Like I said, it looks like they were specifically hitting the area. She said with 1 account that she had closed, these scammers had stolen almost $6,000 by slowly taking money out of the account that they were attached to.

I’ve since upgraded my phone service with caller ID & block… but I still receive phone calls from these guys. At 1st it was a blocked #... & now they show up as being “New York Met.” Phone # - 607229687. I haven’t had a chance to report the # to the FTC yet… but I just wanted to post the # here in case they try to use it with someone else. They normally call me 2-3x times a day every other day, & called today 2/7/2015 around 3:12 pm. My mom got on the phone with him, & he said some pretty vulgar things to my mother.

Just so as a heads up… watch out for a phone # of 607229687 or a company that goes by the name PCCARE

SECURITY ID :- :- 69.228.171.59
PHONE NO :- +1 210 591-7800 / 786-220-3237 ( USA )

:- +44 161 298 9922 ( UK )

EMAIL :- support@southendenterprises.net

Name Will Appear in Card Statement :-PC REPAIR PRO

Just as a head’s up!

We appreciate your blog comment because it helps warn other people about this scam, but it’s not a formal complaint. You can add the details from the blog comment to a consumer complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

My friend was conned by someone from a company listing of: Savntel Technologies
Don ont trust anyone using this company name and never trust anyone who wants control of your PC. They do give you the impression that they are Microsoft represenatives--they are not!! Microsoft takes this very seriously and if they use their company name to gain your trust, they want to know about it. Document (write down) every detail if one of these scammers contacts you so they can be prosecuted. With any financial transaction if it is not a trusted and padlocked site--never give your account information. If you get a phone call from someone--never give credit card, bank account #'s, or your social security # over the phone. Never. Period.

My aunt just fell victim for this she gave a check over the phone does anyone know how long it takes for the check to clear so she can cancel it with the bank. The bank she used is in another state and is a small branch so its not like BofA where you can call 24/7. I feel so bad for her we had to close all the other accounts to make sure they didn't install key loggers or anything. the number they used is from jupiter,fl and we live in ca. she is calling first thing in the morning to let the bank know I just hope it isn't too late they charged her around 500.Or is all hope lost?

If you give someone your bank account number over the phone, they can withdraw money. Contact your bank and explain what happened. You might need to close the account.

i was just contacted by Alex from ITEC Alert in Jupiter, FL (Tel. 1-855-210-3300) saying my computer was sending alert signals to them as the are an authorized agent for Microsoft. What Through me off was the Asian (Middle Eastern Indian) accent. I told him I did not have a windows computer and when I questioned if he was really in Jupiter, FL based on his accent, he hung up on me!

What a scam artist! I'm glad the conversation did not progress further. I went with my gut and started interrogating him and his company.

Same problem on 8/15/2015. They are a fraud! See comment below with summary.

I maintain my friends computer and she said she had received a call from this same number. I called the number back and grilled him. This had scam written all over it and after interrogating him, I proved right.

I too just got a second call from "ITEC ALERt" at 855-593-3163, claiming "my windows computer has a virus". They told me they "got a message from my server at 192.161.1.3", that address is in melbourne, FL apparently. I hung up on them. Please shut these people down!

To file a complaint with the FTC go to ftc.gov/complaint. The details you give will go into the database law enforcement uses.

Blog comments don't go into the database.

I TEC GEEK is at it aghain. They attempt to get you to load remote access software on your machine.

I had a similar incident a couple of times from a company called Live Technician. They claim to be authorized agent for Norton and Microsoft and offer support plans for 2 to 3 years. When they get access to your computer, they add malware to your computer which triggers to call them again for support so they can charge more for the same. Please beware of this company.

Peter

Unfortunately I have fallen into the same scam. I gave them remote access. Now I get all these popups (popup blocker enforced) about my laptop needing help from the Windows Support Team and to call them. HELP. How do I get rid of these popups? Now I have to shut down and reboot. Help..

If you paid for bogus tech support services or software with a credit card, call your credit card company to reverse the charges.

If you think someone may have access to your personal or financial information, learn 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 you gave out. If you use the same passwords for other accounts, change those too.

If you think you may be a victim of a tech support scam, report it to the FTC.

Got scammed by Solidtech and the almost got , if I didn't by Toler Tech . Beware of both with Indian speaking techs

Please report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

I have been getting calls from people who have a Indian accent claiming to be from Microsoft and that I have a virus. They say that they need to have access to my computer to get rid of the virus. I know better than to do that. I have also told them several times that I do not want them to call me again. But that request fell on deaf ears. I finally called the FTC and spoke to a Human being of all things about this. So now they have a report from me. But I don't know if this alone is going to keep them from being harassed again. I certainly hope so. If not I don't know what I can do to put an end to these relentless calls.

what cant the FBI or whoever trace these calls or follow the money when paid by the people who have been scammed

I just got scammed with a a big sign covering my computer screen. It said it was from Microsoft, and do not shut down the computer,but call this number immediately. I was fooled into purchasing their computer plan, but after i realized it was a mistake so today I stopped payment on my credit card and I changed all my private log-in info for my bank. I will also be issued a new credit card.

I thought so, but had to pay $195 to competent tech to spend 7 hours on my computer to fix malware invasion. Be sure they are the top, and now have on my PC a coverage to protect me, and i am sure this is the best. any one besides Microsoft for windows is fraud.

That is why you should always have your pc continuously backed up! I have done pc tech support since the early 80's and learned that lesson ages ago! If you would have simply purchased even a cheap flash drive or thumb drive and kept your system backed up, you would have been fine!

I've had over 7 calls from people telling me they are calling from microsoft, and that my computer is infected with ,malware and other viruses and they say they need my permission to control my computer, i listened and when he kept saying give him permission to control my computer and i said how much is this going to cost me...he said 260.00 for them to go in and clean it and download the software, i started laughing at him and he said whats so funny , i said you are and ..hung up!...now when they call i just hang up...glad to see i was right in doing so...

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