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

Thank you so much for the info. I constantly receive messages like this. keep up the good work thanks again

Go after omni tech

It is extremely important that all type of scams should be stopped globally and there should be a global agreement on safety and security of the computer users whether in government or in private sector.

I completely agree that we should stop all of these scammers. I am going to petition the government to open up scam defense portion of the NSA because basicly these people are terrorists, in essence they terrorize innocent people and make us fear even using a credit card online or over the phone anymore. So I do believe that the NSA and other government entities should go after these people with the same force and energy as they do fighting foreign and domestic terrorists. And I believe that we should have this not just be county oriented but have all nations participate as well. The laws are just too lax and most of the time all they say they can do is fine them and shut down the phone number\website etc. But I know they have the technology and the resources to actually track and take these people down. And I know that for a fact, the government could use a satalite to find an m&m on a beach if they wanted to so why is it then that they say they have a "hard time finding" the scammers and taking them down for good? I person ally think they are too lazy to and that it's not as big of a deal as a terrorist with a bomb would be. I believe scammers and frauds and terrorist's are essentially the same in most aspects and sometimes they are worse then actual terrorists because they cause fear and terror in the privacy of my own home where I'm supposed to be safe and protected, but my country and the government that is supposed to protect me has let me down and essentially let these "terrorists" into my home and take advantage of me. And all the government wants to do is impose a fine on them, that's a huge dissapointment for me because I love my country. So like I said I will be petitoning to see if we can get a branch of government to take down these "terrorists" once and for all. I know its a big task but anything is better then nothing at all.

this idea does express concern for the user, that is a plus.

Very useful information...thank you!

Yes, I am very much aware of these bums.
Every few seconds literally I would have a pop up with the same message, II would be forced to shutdown my computer to keep this message from coming up.
I had a free version of a computer anti malware and virus program called "Avast" and after enough aggravation with these pop ups I bought the premium version of this anti virus program I believe it was some 30 dollars it has not helped and i am still getting the exact same screen image as you have shown in your example.
I don't know when they were sued but as recently as yesterday they were still popping up on my computer screen. You know I do not believe that simply a fine is enough to break these charlatans, I believe jail time or prison time is the only way to stop them.
After all they make so much money doing this without any investment in Capitol that it is all profit for them and they have the money to pay the fines with no problem
Put the bum is hard time prison and at least during that time they cannot do their scams.
Cordially, and thanks

Have you tried running a boot scan? I just use the free avast and I dont't have any problems with malware

Dear Person,I subscribed with Avast and they are the real deal and many way better than Norton's software. Maybe you are a novice and research so you are more knowledgeable.

For those that are a victim of PC Health Boost software (Malware), PC Optimizer Pro (Malware)and PC Tech Hotline (Malware) there is a fix out there which I used to clean my parents PC after they accidently downloaded it.

I researched and scoured the web and my personal IT contacts for a solutions as these things are nasty and very hard to get rid of once installed. I finally came across a posting on bleepingcomputer and after researching, scanning the listed files, checking all the logs, I felt that this would be a valid solution. I was correct in that it cleaned their PC, it removed the malware, found several malware apps the afore mentioned program had also installed and after following the steps in the post (minus sending the log files) my parents PC is now malware free and those 3 programs no longer exist on the PC.

I was scammed by Boost Software and after months of emails I was at the end of my tether trying to get a refund. So I went to the Facebook page of Amit Mehta, one of the owners......and pasted all the info from the court in the comments sections to his posts, and did same on twitter. He soon responded telling me he'd give a refund if I took the defamatory comments off. I told him they were not defamatory as they were TRUE! Next email said "check is in the mail". I paid it into my bank yesterday...... Now waiting to see if it will bounce. Have made a copy of it in case I need it, together with all emails. He is trying to sell a book on Amazon and promotes this on his Facebook page too. I also let his friends know about how he scammed people.

I had the same annoying Avast pop-ups. After being told that an AT&T tech supposedly removed the Avast because we weren't sure if we had a virus, it was still there. I Googled it and took the info off of Avast forum- To remove Avast from Windows 7 requires different steps. I was trying to locate the exact info but I'm unable to at this time. It did finally work though.

I've had another issue with Avast. I bought their paid product, but could not get it to work on my computer, so I called the customer service number on their website on two different occasions. On both occasions I ended up talking to a scammer instead who said that Avast wouldn't work on my computer unless I paid $179.99 to clean up all of the problems. He claimed I did not have Java downloaded, showed me a page full of windows error messages. I declined and hung up, but have since found out, this "representative" lied about everything. The rub is that a real employee of Avast sent me to the scammers and the scammers are using a "legitimate" anti-virus software company. Avast is negligent in my opinion. They are allowing their own customer service routes to be infiltrated by scammers and since this happened to me twice, it's not an isolated incident. Come down on these companies who outsource and don't take responsibility for the outcome. I'll never do business with Avast again!

This happened to me when I attempted to use Norton 360's Symantec support team...guys with Indian accents asking for control of my PC, finding lots of problems, wanting 150.00 to fix...but reached them FROM INSIDE SYMANTEC's real website. What good does the padlock icon do if it can be easily faked?

Great tip. Please post any follow up information, especially company/software names. Thanks.

They also call and tell they need to fix your computer and to give them the number on the back of your computer. I don't even have a computer just a Apple?

I received an e-mail from Microsoft inc. offering me a refund. Is this a scam.I would like to send you a copy of this email, if possible.

Really love and appreciate all the up to date scam information. It's such valuable information for all us senior citizens. Keep up the great work FTC. Thanks and have a wonderful Thanksgiving to everyone at the FTC!

I've had this happen to me and FTC did nothing about it and the scammer got away with it because FTC needed more complaints coming from the same source.

I get these calls all the time,they must be calling from pakistan or India cause they all sound like the cashiers from 7-11, I always tell them to go sell some slurpys or big bites !!

I've been taken by these companies more than once. Will try to figure out how to eliminate the charges from my credit card with your suggestions. I'm getting tired of all the scams.

I watched a bunch of "Event Viewer Scams"videos on YouTube. Last Saturday, these scammers called and I was ready for them! I played along for a couple of minutes and acted like I couldn't find certain keys. Then, Ithey me to type www, I would type "daubloo, daubloo, daubloo""dot" "e as in Edward" "v as in Victor" (you get the picture)! It frustrated the guy to no end! After about 20 minutes of this, the guy handed me off to his supervisor. The supervisor got right to the money and asked what card I wanted to use. I told him the only card I had was a library card. It took him several minutes to get that thru his skull. I told him I only use cash and he said it would be $200. I said OK and I told him I had just given the money to my son. Next thing I heard was a click! My son and I got a great laugh out of the deal! I never turned my computer on and I figure that was 30 minutes they would not be able to use scamming someone else!
I highly recommend watching the videos and use those ideas to mess with these jokers!

I have a similar approach, Rufus. I try to keep them on the phone as long as possible. In this way at least the caller will not be scamming somebody. I actually asked one of them to hold while I went to the bathroom.(I didn't actually go.) One of them had the audacity to say they received a security message while my computer's power was off. That would have been some trick if true. When I got very tired of these scams, I called 911. They referred me to my local precinct. I was advised that nothing could be done about these calls because they are very well hidden. The officer recommended I just hang up. I was angry with her response. Our laws being so openly violated like this is reprehensible. It is an affront to our law abiding society. We found out years ago in NYC what a difference it made when simple quality of life crimes like panhandling were no longer tolerated. Kudos to the FTC for addressing these very important issues. Federal employees like those in the FTC do important work every day. As these comments indicate, it appears that the public recognizes this. It is doubtful, however, that many Congressional Representatives feel the same way judging from their inclination to threaten federal government shutdown rather than rely on a free and open debate to back up their issues.

This mob got me several months ago. Same scam as pictured here above. I couldn't get rid of the pop up messages and my search engines were being hijacked. That scan screen came up every time I opened my computer and wouldn't shut down in the end. I ended up registering. Sucked in. Called the number. Ended up worse off. Told I could pay $260 for remote access there and then. Fortunately, I didn't have that in USD. A trusted friend got rid of everything by remote access. He said nothing was wrong, except what they'd added to scam me.

ADVANCED TECH SUPPORT NEVER CALLED ONE PERSON SEEKING BUSINESS EVER SO YOUR FACTS ARE WRONG . THEY NEVER MADE THE FIRST OUTCALL TO YOUR HOME WAS ANOTHER COMPANY.

Inbound Call Experts/Advanced Tech Support has beaten the FTC and is reopening for business. They are and always have been a legit service. And yes, good, honorable people worked and continue to work there.

I did call them, however they had control of my computer for4 days. Every time they would try and sell me something. I had asked they remove the norton antivirus,they didn't when I went to remove it all my standard apps disappeared one at a time.

I received one of these calls fom a gent with a Middle Eastern accent. He would not give his name or the company he represents & caller ID showed UNKNOWN CALLER. When I refused to talk with him, he began to yell at me. I loudly told him he was yelling at the wrong person & hung up.

The last time someone tried this on the phone I told him all he had to do before I would give him the info he wanted was his name, address, phone number, SS or other national ID number, driver's license number, mother's maiden name and father's maiden name (at that last point he banged down the phone!).

Thanks for all the info you provide !!! Glad to see you got some of these scammers. I think there should be automatic LONG TIME SENTENCES for anyone convicted of any sort of Internet fraud / scam / deceit !!

I don't know what cracking down means, as I just got yet another call tonight, from phone 850-785-9004, a "Sam" saying he was from IT dept and something is wrong with my computer- scam. had these annoying jerks call a couple years ago, and theyre back just like always. would love cracking down to mean jail time for them. moral of story to everyone is don't give a phone caller any information or money. period. then file a complaint on ftc and fcc websites.

got a call from 979 333 0305. jack williams was the name he gave (but he understood hindi insults perfectly which eventually he hung up from. tried to get my wife to relinquish contol of her computer. he said he was from windows.

Comcast did this to me last year & charged me $100 that was only good for 3 days. They tried that same thing again this year but I did not fall for it a second time. I asked a family member( who is an expert technician)to check my computer. He thoroughly went through it & found NO malware, virus, etc! I believe Comcast purposely infects our system just so they can charge consumers hundreds of dollars! BEWARE of Comcast!!!!!

I just had a lady call me from "Microsoft" claiming that my computer was sending her signals that it had a virus. She wanted me to get on my computer and press different commands and that was the red flag...so I asked for her name, company name, website address, and phone number. At first there was a pause then she actually provided me with everything I asked, but then she got really pushy. so I told her to call back and that never happened. Be careful because scams are an ongoing problem that will only get worse. Be smart when you are online and now you have to even use caution just picking up your telephone. The lady gave me Teckstork as her business, though the site may appear to be legit, if she is representing that company they are anything but that.

I have had 2 calls. Knew it was a scam so I messed with them for a bit. Told both I was on the do not call list' latest guy actually said 'I don't care'.

I never answer any call i do not recognize as i've found out they're all scams. Occasionally i will answer & will get the same foreigner who starts talking about my computer. I hang up in his face. Not worth the time of day to even talk with them.

SmartPCfixer has charged me twice, and has promised a full refund if they solution did not work. Their solution did not work, and I am unable to obtain my refund from them. It has been a month. I don't know if I have any recourse. I just keep on sending them email stating that I will contact the BBB, FTC and put up a ton of bad reviews. I don't know what else I can do....

So I finally received my refund back. It took over a dozen emails to get them to finally refund. In my opinion, they make it not really worth your time to track down the refunds. Their refund process was not clearly laid out, and for a post-secondary educated person not to be able to figure out their process tells you something is wrong...

I was struck by Yelp tech service and had to get
the credit card company to help and then changed
our account number. not nice

contact the FTC

I have received so many calls claiming to be from Microsoft. When I ask for persons name and their company they got abusive which is a great warning sign. Now I thank them for wasting their time and to get a life and a real job.

I just received a call indicating that my computer was generating errors and could he assist. Caller ID indicated "Marsh & McLennan" (212) 345-6251 which is ironic since I used to work for them. Called number back and got recording that it was not a number associated with Marsh & McLennan.

Caller seemed to have Indian accent. I told him that he called the wrong guy since I work in IT and that he must have flunked out from Scammer School. Very disturbing how these maggots operate and try to prey upon less technical or elderly folks - my main concern is that if my wife answered she might have divulged some compromising information.

I just received one of these calls - caller ID said "ITSQUAD TECHNO". I guessed it was a scam and told the caller I didn't believe him and hung up. He called back EIGHT consecutive times. Each time I answered and hung up right away, and each time he called right back. Finally, I let the call go to voice mail and the caller left a sexually explicit, disgusting, and threatening message. He called right back and left another one. What an awful way to end Thanksgiving Day.

The picture of the software you have above. I just went to the web site downloaded it and purchased it? hows that possible if you shut them down? http://www.pchealthboost.com/

Although the Court found that the FTC and the State of Florida established a likelihood of success on the merits against Boost Software, the seller of PC Healthboost, and its owner, Amit Mehta, it did not enter a preliminary injunction against them. The Court noted that, based on Boost Software and  Amit Mehta’s assurances that they would discontinue any problematic marketing practices and be more diligent in their future business associations, it “would be inequitable to enter a preliminary injunction which would effectively close the Boost Defendants’ business before a trial on the merits based on past problematic business practices that are not likely to continue during the pendency of this proceeding.”

where did you read the information with the boost not going into a preliminary injunction? Ive been looking everywhere online for a update on this case.. thank you

My father in-law feel victim to this about a month ago. A pop up came on the screen saying the computer was infected and gave him a number to call. They claimed to be a third party hired by Microsoft dadada... They requested to have control of our computer and my father inlaw not knowing much about computers at all gave it to him. We walked in about half way through the call and I saw the alert on the screen and him on the phone. I told him to hang up!!!They then called back and I answered he said yes I think we got discontnected. I said no He hung up on you because I told him you were scamming him. He tried giving me the "No you can verify on the Microsoft website that we are affiliated with them". By that time they had charged his account $300! We quickly shut the computer down and he called the bank. I called microsoft myself and got the problem fixed. The "first choice tech support" scammers had control of out computer for about 6-7 minutes and in that time they had downloaded over 27,000 files and many virus'. DONT EVER RESPOND TO A POP UP! Find the numbers yourself.

Like everyone else I keep getting these stupid calls but now instead of hanging up on them, I have some fun at their expense. on one call I asked them to keep talking as homeland security is checking my lines and this will help them in identifying them. On another call I asked them which computer was causing the problem as I have 15 computers. He asked me if I didn't have a personal computer and I told him no that I couldn't afford one so HE hung up on me. I change my story each time and get a variety of reactions. As long as they have bothered me I feel like I can mess with them. I even had one call from a woman with an Indian accent just like the rest of them who asked me to get on my computer. I told her that my husband is with the FBI and I would like their number so we could check on them. she gave me a number something like 123-456-7890 which was actually my phone number with some area code.; when I told her that is my phone number the gal just hung up on me. It's a lot of fun to mess with them because when you go outside of their scripted conversation, they just hem and haw and hang up. wonderful feeling.

I love it, I had kept the person on the line and finally got him to hang up. I told him I was hungry and had to eat one of his relatives who had passed away, I told him I was going to get a hamburger!

My usual response is unprintable but the second word is "OFF"

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