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

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"

I keep getting calls repeatedly for your 'windows computer' and occasionally they say 'microsoft' - I tell them remove my number and the last one responded by telling me 'f-you' - seriously! The worst part of that was they called my son's cell. So annoying!

457-561-0916 was the caller ID on the scammer. I just tell them I have Linux and they hang up. I get these calls about once a month.

Had a popup that I called that was from Microsoft Tec. Support. The # 1-844-952-7315 and a person named Larry from you know were was on the phone. And like a dummy $249.95 later he was to fix my pc that he did not. so now I'm talking to my credit card co. to fix this bad scam. Now I'm learning at 71 I'm slow. So FTC go get them people.

Watch out for PAD PAD 1-209-631-2059. More of the same.

I also got one of these calls, with a barely intelligible accent, claiming to be from Microsoft. Caller asked for my father, and claimed that his computer was sending them error messages. I told caller that my father died 25 years ago, and never had a computer. Caller repeated that they were getting messages, perhaps somebody else was using his computer. I said "put me on your do not call list", he said he would. Somebody else called a few days later - same pitch. It's a scam!

advanced tech support had technician who were trying to romantically fraud lonely women.

My friend gets phone calls often from these so-called computer fixers. She does not even own a computer!!! I think the FTC is taking way too long on this serious problem!!!

I today 12/11/2014 got a call from 855-509-5512 on the very subject. Little did he know I am an IT Security Engineer and know better than to believe Microsoft would call to tell me I had a problem with my computer.

DO NOT fall for this ridiculousness scam. Microsoft is never going to call you.

beware of phone calls from - 800-550-1496 and from 308-872-9085 claiming they are from microsoft and the are getting an alert that someone is trying to steal bank and personal information from you and you need to install software right away !!

hang up and block the number they will keep calling !!

Add phone # 207-598-4867who called saying there was a problem with my computer he needed to fix and I should turn it on so he could do it. I hung up.

I got a call tonight. Again! Told "Fred" I was calling the FTC if they called again. The nuMeer was 656-528-5654.

Obviously, these pr**ks are targeting senior citizens. My mother also got a call from 207-598-4867 last week. Some indian sounding guy told her they were 'from Windows' and that she had some illegal software on her computer. They convinced her to CTRL-R run AA_v3 malware enabling remote access, then tried to hold her up for $199 to fix her computer. When she told them no, they made her desktop disappear. Turned out the "display desktop icons" parameter was just turned off. I deleted the AA_v3.exe files and ran Norton Security scan to make sure the computer was clean. One of mom's friends wasn't so lucky, totally whacked her system.

I know this is a scam, but I am receiving so many calls from them it is now harrassment. Today they called me at 7 AM, on the east coast.....how to make them stop?

Watch out for a 212-345-6251 number with caller ID Marsh McClenann...also a scam. Same computer virus nonsense.

Another scammer phone # to watch out for is 212-345-6251; caller ID on your phone will say 'tech support and the individual calling will identify him or herself as calling from Microsoft Tech Support.

They have been calling my landline but now are calling my cell phone. I told the guy I am on the DO NOT CALL list, then he yelled at me. I told him I had reported these calls the the FTC and that I am willing to help prosecute this activity, he yelled at me that I can expect him to "keep calling and calling you until you finally get it." I hung up as he was still yelling at me.

got a phone call from guy saying he was from windows support team . that my had bad virus and hacked. Next thing i knew the mouse was all over the screen. and the he wanted 199. buck . the name he use was savntel from london England . i was taken but not for long i cancled and my charge and card . then he call back told he was taking me to court . remember you called me . watch out for 760-933-1530 it's calif number

I've been getting calls on my cell from 917-732-1559 "Telegency LLC NY,NY. I looked the # up. They claim they are from either microsoft or windows and said there has been malware downloaded on my computer and to login and they will assist me. I told them I was not near my computer. And they said they will wait. I hung up the 1st time. The continued to call me for 2 weeks so I answered the call and asked them to stop calling me. They stopped for a couple of months and now they started again. I asked them a 2nd time to stop calling me. Let's see what happens now. I entered my name on the do not call registry. Hope this helps. Be careful!

ben@mailette.com
Stole my yahoo contacts, sent out a mass email while misspelling my name. The dumb ass also left at the bottom sent from yahoo Ipad. I have never owned a iPad. Please catch him!

Advanced Tech Support is STILL scamming people under a differect name, and they are STILL using the same malicious software.
The new name they are under is USTech Support
here are a couple of links to prove that they are the same just under a different name

Just got a call from "Microsoft" He wanted me to give him my client I'd. Said my computer has been conflicting with another IP address on the Internet. I could not stop laughing at him. Anyways. He kept asking me to go to my computer and press the Windows and R. Uh no. How can these people sleep at night. But I guess some people will do these things to people. Sad. Never got a company name. Tried *69 and it said the number was 1-000-000-0000.

I hope this helps someone.

The safest way to close a pop-up ad is to hold down either [Alt] key and press the [F4] function key, then release them simultaneously. Most of the dangerous pop-up ads are generated by Conduit Search Protection browser hijacker software. The pop-up ads usually contain an "x" to mislead you into believing you can safely close the ad by click it. Instead, the "x" actually activates the malware. It will invade your computer in multiple locations (Registry, Program Files, etc.). It will add several new search engines using different (fake) names, making one of them your default search provider. It will change your browser home page. Many anti-virus programs detect it as "PUP" (Potentially Unwanted Program) or "PUA" (Potentially Unwanted Application), or they do not detect it at all. Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware (MBAM) is free. It will find the malware and remove it. It can even be run after starting your computer in Windows Safe Mode.

Do I really dare try your advice about Malwarebyte Anti-Malware? Scammers know all the tricks to get you to believe them. I hope you are really trying to be helpful.

I got a call yesterday from someone claiming to work for Itec Alert in Jupiter, Fla. He said that my computer was sending infected messages to their "network" and he was calling to fix my computer for free just to get it to stop infecting others. He then turned me over to a "Microsoft Certified Technician" who made it sound like he was actually with Microsoft because he claimed to be the one who was receiving the error messages my computer was sending to Microsoft. He showed me all of the error messages in my Event Vewer (I was well aware of the errors & what was causing them). He said his name was Alex Perez, but his accent sounded like he was from India. He gave me instructions which I followed and I then had TightVNC, PCCheck & ShowmyPC3161 on my computer. Unbeknownst to me at the time, they are remote control software. He then took control of my computer. When I saw the cursur moving I freaked & held the power button down until my computer shut down. I also hung up. He called back saying he was only trying to help me and said that I needed: 1. ESET, McAfee or AVG 2. anti-hacking software & 3. junk cleaner (C-cleaner) totalling $140.00 and that I needed to take my computer to a computer fix-it shop to clean all the bad files off of it and that they would charge over $100.00 an hour. He said that I could avoid that if I bought some sort of "lifetime software" from him for $200 & let him remotely fix my computer. I hung up on him again but he called back and left a voice mail message to the affect that he was only trying to help me and the $200 was hardly worth the trouble he was going thru to do that.

I have deleted PCCheck & ShowmyPC from my computer but can't figure out how to get rid of TightVNC. The online instructions to do that are no help.

Is there a legal authority to which I can file an official complaint to stop these malicious scamming creeps & get them prosecuted? I did not give them any money, but still . . .

I also had a call from itecAlert. They gave now method to verify it was authentic except to look up and verify that they have a website. What was especially suspicious was that the technician and his supervisor both had Indian accents but said their names were James Kelly and Frederick ...
Interestingly, they agreed to have me call back to the number on the web site. The web site looks real, but the area code is toll free, so there is no way to check location. The Better Business Bureau also has quite a numer of complaints and they posted a warning on their web site.

I have fun with these people.
The fun part is they assume everyone uses windows I use that to my advantage as I run Linux. They usually get pissed off and hang up on me.

Today Jan 6 and yesterday Jan 5 I was woken up at 8 am by some guy with a fake name and a bollywood accent. They hung up on me when I told them I was reporting them to the FTC, which I did.

Do you have anything on a company called LAP Technical Support?

I just experienced this attempt but it was thru AT&T customer support. They referred me to 888-959-1458 which connected me to "Mike" with a strong accent who declared that my IP address had been hacked and my identity was being stolen as we spoke and only his level 6 certified friend could save me from losing all my banking and personal information for fees from $199.99-$599.99 depending on how much assistance I wanted.

Also beware of 231-545-8711. This is an invalid no they called me from.

How many yes's are they getting? They wouldn't keep doing it if they weren't making a small fortune. It's a sad state for the many people, they need to be charged legally.

Jan 15, 2015 - and still getting the same calls. Wonder what the police/ftc/homeland sec/fbi guys are doing? crooks operating freely and thumbing their nose at the 'law'. sad to see this happen in this country.

I have an unknown number coming up claiming they are "Alex" for Microsoft Technical Support. Have filed complaint with do not call registry and my cell carrier, and have explicitly told this a@@ four times I am on the do not call list and not to call again. Two days ago told jerk I would have number traced. He called again today. Time to maybe call local police dept. I do have certain unknown/private numbers that are legitimate calls that I need to take, so this is absolutely harassment. two weeks now of this garbage is more than enough.

I recently started receiving phone calls from someone who claims to be with Microsoft Tech Support. This caller is persistent and nasty. The first day he called me 5 times even though I told him that I knew this was a scam he continue to call. I hung up on him and he called back and asked "why did you hang up on me?" I finally changed the settings on my phone not to accept private calls and he unblocked his number and called again. The caller ID identified the person as Arthur R. Sawyer, 989-792-9494. I reported this to the local authorities and noticed that he called me Friday evening.

I have received many of these calls over the last two years. I always get the name of the caller and note the time and date of the call and tell them the call will be reported to the FTC. I ask to be put on the "do not call" list and the guy always says they don't have one. The call is from a different number for each call, usually from an eastern area code. Luckily I have never had abusive callers or language, unlike so many people here who have.
Yesterday I got a call and the caller ID showed Wells Fargo Bank. I answered, and it was the same "Windows Tech Support" call. I hung up and called the listed number to see if it really was Wells Fargo and got a lady's home phone.
Beware! How can someone now show up on caller ID as a legitimate company when they are not?

Rcvd. my 1st Microsoft Windows call from Indian/Pakistani "Alan Parker" of "Windows Service System" of Colorado at 303-351-7053. Didn't fall for it. And reported it on Microsoft's & FTC's sites.

ALSO, don't fall for any phony state or IRS tax acct. problem/EFTPS payment-related calls. Get the caller's name. You can always call the tax agency yourself to check on your personal or business related accounts to see if you have any problems. (You probably know if you do, already.) Also report these calls to FTC, and forward phony IRS emails to phishing@irs.gov.

I received a call from Windows, guy says his name is John Parker (Indian/Asian accent) Tel # 800-220-8851. Says he is from Windows Technical Support. I don't believe him hang up and tell him I'm calling my companies tech support. Did not let him get into my computer, be he persistently called me back 3 times.

This is my second Computer Tech Support Scam as they say my computer is infected with a virus, their tel # 804-571-1877.

That is exactly what they do I have check for viruses and security problems I am looking at one right now 855-856-1053 brought to by PastaLeads and the other # is 844-248-4193 also PastaLeads

Have received over 20 calls today from 802-332-6892, Daniel Wilson with Microsoft Technical Support. He wants into my computer and I have told him repeatedly I can verify who is or where he is calling from and to stop calling me. He just won't give up. He has middle eastern accent and the background noise is of people speaking Hindi, I work with a large group of Hindi speaking individuals so I recognize it when I hear it. he has been told to stop calling me.

Jan 29 2015 I am receiving 2 to 3 calls a day for the past week from 2 different numbers one shows up as Kavish Technsof 1-952-467-6390 and the other shows on caller ID as Out of Area 1-000-000-0000.My Telephone Service provider is AT&T,they told me for a one time fee of $3.99 I can block up to 10 numbers by using *60. I think I might try this if I get another call, but not before I tell the scammers to call me at my business and give them the number of the FTC.

I received a bogus "Microsoft" call from 944-695-9397 from a person claiming to be Gerry on January 16th, 2015. She tried to convince me that my computer was as risk and they "Microsoft " was obligated to help me. She wanted me to press the control key at bottom left hand side of the key. I asked the name of her company, she said it was Tech Support America. When I asked what country she was in, all I got was a CLICK! I attempted to call her back, but, it was "not a working number". Please, hang up on these calls. By the was she had my home phone number and my name as the owner of the computer in question. Who's giving these people our information?

I just got a call from "Tech Support America" too. Thick Indian accent; she claimed they had done a "survey of all the windows and mac users in [my] area" (that's probably everyone) who "surfed the web or downloaded files" (ditto) and they were offering a free service to protect my computer from malware. My husband works in IT, so I just hung up on her, but when I got home I looked up the area code (422) she had called from, and it is definitely not based in the US, as this code is unused.

I just received a call on my cell phone today from a guy (also Indian accent) saying he was from Tech Support America. The number he called from was 363-466-3575. He said they were seeing many damaged files coming from my computer. He said he would wait for me to get in front of my computer so he could help fix the problem. I asked him again what company he was with, and then I told him I did not know the company and to never call my number again. I immediately called my elderly mother to warn her of this scam - these scum bags prey on people who aren't strong technically. It really makes me angry. Thank you for this blog - when I googled Tech Support America I found this and was glad it confirms for people that these jerks are scum bags and not to be trusted. I hope the FTC can close them down.

Thank you for sharing your experiences. These are useful details for a complaint.  Please go to ftc.gov/complaint to report this. We can't address complaints you write about in blog comments.

Just had a call from Tech Support America. Woman got very upset when I questioned which company. I asked for her phone # and she said I could not have it because I was "not yet a member." She was very rude, loud, wanted me to go to computer, etc. When I told her goodbye, a man immediately came to phone & began trying to talk to me. I hung up & then after checking Tech Support America on my cell phone, I shut down my computer. She had my home phone & address (which she said were public record when I asked) What concerns me is that we have Comcast & the Internet had been irregular. When I last re-set the modem, the code to protect our WIFI had disappeared. I hope they haven't been able to access my computer. I do have it set so that no remote access is allowed, but still! How unsettling! The phone # she called from was 368-296-7269. Now I need to call my 91 year old dad to make sure they don't get him. He doesn't use Internet, but they might convince him to let them into his computer. Oh, and yes, she had the accent, and there was the background noise.

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