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

(209) 631-2059 Merced, CA
Strong Indian/Pakistani accent, "Windows tech support", told me my computer was replicating itself. Needed urgent action, i told him i was not mear my computer, he asked when he could call back at a time I would be at my computer, called at the appointed hour,said he was from Windows, who? Windows tech support. Who do you work for? Microsoft. Where? Rialto. Is that near Merced? Click

I just got a call from 212-345-6789. I did not answer, but did a look up and found this forum. thank you for the info. Two weeks ago I got a ransomware virus. I'm still recoving from it and still trying to find out how I got it, despite being very careful.

We've been called several times a day concerning our windows causing trouble . Phone number is Texas 940-594-9906.

well now i am part of this scamming,got taken twice by these con artists,an know the calls have started again this week either i do not answer the phone or i get Skyped,an you cannot not call them back,luck today i got disconnected from them with no call back from them.i then called the FTC,which i knew nothing about,found the number on here,an filed a report an will keep calling them each time i get these phony techs,an now they are saying they are from Microsoft,i am smarter than that statement.

good information about Microsoft tech support. really helpful.

435-109-7321 "Peter Williams" (heavy Indian accent) Employee ID PW732 (yeah right) from "Windows" lots of people in background speaking Hindi. So loud I couldn't hear him calling regarding my computer. When I asked Pella or Anderson "windows" he was confused . . . He proceeded to yell into the phone so I yelled back. He called back 3 more times . . . told him he was going to be reported and to no call again he was harassing . . .

Received a call from Jack of so called Tech Support (Caller Id was mrniteshji 1-661-748-0240), claiming that they are receiving a software error message from my computer- I ask how they know that it is mine- they said thru our Dell Tag Service number. Wanted me to hit key "window" and R on the keyboard.

I told them I would call Dell directly. The caller continued to insist that Dell only troubleshot hardware, not software. I called Dell-they confirmed that "Jack" is a fraud and referred me to FTC (1-877-382-4357) to report this. I talked to the live agent and gave him all details and numbers.

Thanks for the phone numbers everyone has listed in this blog! I have entered them on my phone and blocked them. I have been harassed for a year and a half from Omnitech by men with extremely thick Indian accents who flippantly refuse to remove my phone number from their calling list. In the last few months they've been using "No Caller ID" so I can't block their numbers, and have called as early as 5AM. Here's some of the phone numbers I have had to block: 866-733-9977, 800-762-3201, 703-272-4699, 661-748-0240, and 919-692-6063.

These are useful details for a complaint.  Please report your experience at ftc.gov/complaint. We can't address complaints if they are submitted through the blog comments.

I care for my 90 year old grandmother daily, and just received a call. The man had an Indian accent, so when he asked if I was her I said yes. He said "ma'am, my name is John, and your computer is broken." I said John, I don't have a computer so stop calling here. (She really doesn't have a computer). He hung up right away, and I immediately dialed the call return service so I could write the number down and call him back. When I tried calling back it said that the number is not in service, and then the operator recites he letters spok. The number is 612-650-6111. This is not the first time this has happened.

iyogi , one of the big scam tech support company , but us government is not doing anything to stop them . why so , these companies are giving money to government , or to internet service provider . these type of calls must stopped completely

I keep getting calls from a source claiming to be technical support for Windows. I tell them I'm on a Mac - doesn't matter the individual keeps rambling on and on. I have gotten these calls from different area code - the voice and accent always sounds the same... I tried blocking some numbers but these jackasses come back with a different number. I always tell them do not call me again - but they always do!

So, I got a call on the way home from "Michael, from Tech Support" with the strongest Indian accent ever. I had fun with him, asked him where he was physically located. He said he just wanted to help me get rid of viruses and things. He ended up getting his "supervisor" on the phone, who said he was Steven, not as strong of an accent, but still...asked him where the company was located, he said Las Vegas, NV. How long the company had been in business...20 years. What the name of the president of his company was, yeah, he didn't know that. Anyway, it was fun messing with them on the way home. They ended up hanging up on me. Tried to call the number back and it was a non-working number, so they do know SOMETHING about technology. My advice, have fun with them.

Apparently the FTC lawsuits against these phoney tech support companies has had no effect, because I've received two calls during the past month. It hasn't slowed them down at all.

Their use of English is so poor that they are barely understandable. I had to ask the person calling to repeat himself several times.

I'd heard about their scam before, so when he asked me to go to a web site and download some remote control software, instead I went to Google and typed in "Microsoft Windows scam." When he asked me what I saw on the screen, I read him the first sentence that said, "Don't trust these scammers.' He hung up on me.

I really wish the FTC would take more action against these creeps. Find their IP address and knock it down.

We found Osama Bin Laden--we can find these guys too.

On April 1st, I also received a call from a lady with the name of Ann representing Itec Alert from Jupiter Florida claiming to be a certified Microsoft security response partner and that my Windows machine was sending out virus alerts. I have a number of Linux, Apple and Windows systems so asked her to be specific on which one. When pushed for the specific MAC address, IP address or computer name there was a lot of attempted redirection and vagueness. Old them to not call again and advised them I had added their number to my Sentry call blocking system blacklist.

I received that faithful call from India with promises of clearing up all the virus's on my computer. They used a CLSID from a microsoft process as my computer ID as usual. They walked me through installing Team Viewer and requested my User ID and password. This is where the call go fun. I gave them a fake ID number several time and the call was escalated to a high level tech. When the connection still did not take place I asked for their user id and password. LOL Team Viewer User ID: 501-603-334 Password :3098 I went on to tell them that I needed their IP address to enter into my router so that we could have a live connection. There was a bit of hesitation on there part. There was a bit of discussion in the back ground and then they hung up the phone. I can appreciate their efforts and the game continues. I loved the idea they gave me their team view ID and I will pass it along to their corporate team to let them know. I am sure with a bit more effort I might actually get their IP next time. Silly Scammers ;)

OK.. I've gotten a lot of these calls.. I'm tech savy so for me it's more humorous than a headache. If they call about a PC well I've got a Mac.. Other times I ask them to hold and hit the wrong button so they get a tone but can still hear me as I say loudly my mouth by the phone "Start the trap and trace!" CLICK! Thing is one thing all have in common is Indian accents.. Which for me begs the question Could this influx of Indian Accented Scammers be connected to the fact that almost everyone it seems these days is using an Indian Phone bank for their support needs? Think about it... you buy a new _________ and register it, then something goes wrong and you call support... and Bingo.. Your friendly downtown Bombay help desk person with their americanized script... and now they have your home phone number.. and they know you own a whatever electronic device you called about... Now just how secure are those Indian call centers? How much do they care about what happens to information about you?

So... I got a pop up ad on my computer saying that I have a virus and I need to call this number. It's 855-875-1572. It turns out to be 1st Choice Tech Support. They tell me that in order to get rid of the virus it will cost 250 but then they lowered it to 200. It seemed a bit suspicious to me but the "evidence" that they gave me about my computer being infected seemed pretty solid. So I gave them my credit card number and they are now working on the computer. I then did some research and as soon as I found this site, I called my credit card company to dispute the charges immediately. I assume this is a scam?? I am so unsure as I am not very tech savy. Please give me your thoughts when you get the chance. Thank you.

If you think your computer has been involved in a tech scam, get rid of malware that the fraudsters may have installed. Download legitimate security software and delete anything that it finds as a problem.

Then, change any passwords that you gave out. If you use the same passwords for other accounts, then change those too. Please let us know what happened by filing a report at ftc.gov/complaint.

- Although I didn't give out any of my personnel- information, I had a strong feeling that this was a bogus call. His name was Peter Parker: phone number:888-414-1542. His company name : P C Support Plaza, in California. He hung up at this point after I asked him for the full address. He had a foreign accent. End of call as he hung up. I called the sheriffs and they told me to report to this web site.

Thank you for sharing your experience. The FTC can't address complaints that come through the blog comments. Please go to ftc.gov/complaint and file a complaint so it goes into the FTC database that investigators use.

Got add's that popped up Microsoft when you see that you update well i got Broswer hijacked Taplika I can't get it out of my computer. i already paid for a scam i ordered a removal tool for 30.00 and they got remote access to my computer how can i get them out.again saying they are Microsoft you would think the company would get this stopped my poor mother Inlaw just got a new computer and they got her to and hers is junk just wondered why Microsoft is letting this happen Does not say much for them

I want this group stopped and stopped now. I don't need to go to a website to help spot a scam, this calls are scams. Phone number is 850-785-9004 and the caller said his name was Alex. They call about every ten days or we can go about two weeks before they call again. They are rude and it has gone beyond what we should have to put up with. Calls come at all times of the day and night. The FTC and/or the FCC need to step in and stop this now. Sue the phone companies as accessories to the crime that these callers are perpetrating. Do it now.

If you're getting repeated calls from the same number, you could contact your phone provider. Ask your phone provider if it charges for a service that blocks a particular number. Remember that telemarketers often change the numbers they call from, so it might not be worth paying a fee to block a number that will almost always change.

I just got another call from "Technical Support America". I too just mess with them now. I tell them I have Pella windows not microsoft. "No sir, your operating system." I say that my computer doesn't have a system that operates it, I operate it. Then I say that my computer has a keyboard, mouse and screen. Why would I need a window in it? And I just keep up this crap with everyone near me laughing until this person just can't handle it anymore and hangs up. For as long as this has been going on, they must be getting takers. Oh gullible people!

Had this problem last fall, calling multiple times a day telling me there was something wrong with my computer. I told them I had a Geek Squad contract for a year (which was actually true), and that "I would run over there tomorrow" and have it checked out, thanks for the heads-up. They tried to insist that the Geek Squad was not equipped for this, but I said I would check with them first. It went on for a month or so before they finally gave up. Today it started again, with a girl's voice, Indian accent. She asked me if I was the main subscriber to our Microsoft account. I said No, I am not. She sounded confused for a minute, then said Oh, ok, I'm sorry and hung up. : - ) Laughed for 10 minutes, then decided to see if anyone else was posting yet. Marsh McKenna comes up on the Caller ID, 212-345-6789, Notice it is literally a 2, then 123456789? Not a coincidence, bogus number for a bogus company. I'm sure Microsoft would like to stop this, but they do not have access to the information that Homeland and the FCC do.

Look out for a company using the name of a real technical support company: LIVE TECHNICIANS. They will ask for $ to be wire to them!
We became victims of their scam but are now aware and smarted! Luckily our bank credited our $ back.

Beware of Avast employees Jorge #6435 Andrew #OTS0023 phone 800 457-6839 Gabriel 877 204-9327
Mark 818 399-6035 and Orange Tech Services Inc. They scammed me into entering my computer and sevral days later Mark called and tried to blackmail me into giving him my bank account info so he could refund $229.99 back to me. He said their sattelite system crashed and could no longer support their corrections to my computer and did not have the ability to credit my cc or write a check. When I refused to give my bank info, He crashed my computer. I reported this to Avast who claimed they had no record of a third party (Orange) and I said obviously one or more of their employees is a scammer. Avast was not interested nor inclined to credit me for the scam that was done through their company. Phone #'s involved: 661 748-0240 (from Mark of Orange Tech) 760 726-8500, 760 806-1645, 760 806-1644, 617 612-9825, 818 399-6035, 888-216-0235 These are from calls I received from either Avast or Orange Tech. Some of programs they used (Avast)C:windows/system 32sfc/scannow by Andrew then Orange used Team Viewer id#224 360 49 password 7432. I hope this helps you to avoid these monsters. By the way, they were all from India getting away with duping Americans.

I never answer the phone, not ever. I let the machine pick up on all my calls because I'm sick of scammers, robo callers, etc,etc. but on Thursday, February 4, 2016 I was expecting a call from a roofer and picked up on the first ring. A woman with an Indian acccent told me she was from Dell and needed access to my computer right away because somebody was trying to access it illegally. I'm normally very sharp but I do have a premium contact with Dell and I bought it. I went to the computer and she had me do a few steps before finally requesting direct access. I was about to give it to her when I read a warning on my computer DO NOT GIVE ACCESS EVER WITHOUT VERIFYING THE PARTY FIRST and I said to her that I needed to make sure she was who she says she was and she hung up on me. I immediately called Dell and they told me it was a scammer but no damage was done because she never got access. I did a Mccaffee run right away to make absolutely sure and thank God nothing happened but she had the nerve to send me an email which I reported spam and deleted right away. We live in a terrifying world due to the fantastic technology we now have and that has woken up the monsters of the world, the maggots of the world who want to suck our blood. DO NOT ANSWER THE PHONE, GET AN ANSWERING MACHINE AND SCREEN ALL YOUR CALLS. THIS WAY THEY HAVE NO CHANCE TO GET YOU. I WENT AGAINST MY OWN RULE AND I ALMOST, ALMOST GOT SCAMMED BY THIS WORM OF A WOMAN. BE CAREFUL AND DON'T FALL A VICTIM TO THESE DISGUSTING INDIVIDUALS.

My wife let someone from Orange Tech Service take over her laptop but she had called them. She googled up MS to get them to stop asking for Win 10 updated and called someone on an 800 number. Woman said computer was fine but she should buy network protection from them. Now I'm concerned that her computer is at risk. The Orange Tech Service pop-up came for her to respond to how she liked the service.

Personally I get the MS call numerous times and have googled up a couple of Hindi swear words which has them hang up on me.

Got the "I'm from Microsoft Tech" call yesterday on my cell. Indian accent. I was in my garden when he called. Told me "it's about your computer, do you understand that?" I said "Yes." He repeated, "I'm calling from Microsoft, this is about your computer's security." I started to laugh and told him I don't have a computer, F off. I hung up.

Got 4 more calls today. The numbers showing on the phone are:

1 (855) 336-0212, 1 (209) 631-2059, 1 (800) 978-5603.

Got us today too. Tech Support America in Las Vegas he told my wife in a thick Indian accent. She told him he was a scammer and he got belligerent. "You people think you are so smart." you people? "You americans..." Click. He kept calling back so we left the phone off the hook. Submitted complaint with FTC online. This guy needs to be found, and fixed.

I was called by "Tech support america" I hung up the phone considering scammers

Tech America just called my cell# today and after he told me that there was suspicious activity coming from my computer, I told him that was impossible because my day job is tech support. Click. Okay, I lied, but he obviously was looking for someone less sophisticated when it comes to computers. Never ever believe someone when they call you offering to help you for a fee.

Got a call on my cell phone from 942-374-6592. The guy was difficult to understand due to a heavy accent. He said he was from "Tech Support America" and that he had received a report that my computer was downloading malware. I asked him how he knew it was my computer, did he know my IP address. He did not. I told him I had 35 years' experience in IT (true) and that I thought it was a scam. I then added a few more choice words and hung up.

Keep getting at least one of these calls a day. This time they blocked the number. There was silence then a bonk then background noise of static and many people in a room. Guy with a thick accent started swearing at me and telling me I can't hang up on him or block his calls.

I got a call today from Tech Support America, and the odd thing is, I had given my cell phone to the tech support team from Verizon and was expecting their call. So I talked to him more than I should have. If they had access to our screen for a bit, are we compromised, or are they just looking to sell their product? I'm worried they have access to private stuff, now, but maybe they will just move on to another possible sucker. Thoughts?

Better do some thorough scanning of your computer.

I left a comment yesterday about being scammed by Boss Tech(855-602-6550 or 855-416-2677) But I don't see my comment. Was it posted? I wanted to know if anyone else dealt with or heard of Boss Tech?

If you lost money to a scam, please let us know. File a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint.

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 has access to your personal or financial information, read about what to do about 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.

Just received a call from 648-392-6746 claiming to be with a company called Tech Support America. This is the third call I've received, with the first two calls from different numbers. They are very aggressive and argumentative. With the second call, I told them to hold while I connected with local Law Enforcement. Surprisingly, we were disconnected. DO NOT FALL FOR THIS! IF you Google the area code, you will most likely find other complaints. Beware! It's a scam! Even with the threat of reporting them for violating Federal Law after being told repeatedly to remove me from their call list and not to call me on my call phone again, they do not care because they are most likely not in the U.S.

I had a call May 11 from an arib guy who transfered me to himself. I recognised his voice and his so-called-name. He was a University of Phoenix Tech and his name was Alex. I am still a sutdent and never had anyone like him help me before or since. He was verifying every single aspect of my identity, possiblely. The usual questions they are rutinely asking then verifying my IP address to my computer and the IP address to my internet connection too. I didnt know there was an IP address for the internet until he asked me about it. I dont remember if I stated that part in my complaint to the FTC at the time but I may have to report another one if I cannot find an update on my first one.

When this guy called, he muffledly, said he was a Windows tech but would not at all admit he worked for Microsoft until I said if he didnt, hes not helping me. He guided me into my computer to show me the 43,000 viruses and trojens I had since mid Aug. (6 months they call and I hang up) He was arguing with me throughout the whole call. I kept refusing each step until he explained he was a Windows IT guy. I yelled at him when I realized he was walking me throught the steps to connect to my computer. Which is so similar to UOP tech support when they connect. Without my permission he connected. I have no idea what was going on from his side but I kept seeing him take control of my computer as I kept on yelling at him. He stopped when I started crying. Then when I stoped crying he was trying to do it anyway. He told me I would have to allow him to download Malwarebytes and other security softwares if I didnt want all thoses viruses in my comuter. I had over an hour to hang up on him but I had been scared from actually believing him and seeing 43,000 trojens and viruses listed. I dont know where he told me to go to see the list but when I went to the geeks at BestBuy they said that if I had any hackers or viruses in my computer it would be listed as a program in the uninstalled list of the Control pannel.
I found a guy on Youtube- Eli the Computer Guy. He said he has been an IT guy for 15 yrs. So I did every single little thing he said; including downloading only the software he suggested; and never ever trust thoses out on the market because they have wholes in their program plus they have the same codding for years on end. Plus I went on identitytheft.gov and have been working on everything listed on there just to keep them from comming back. There is more to my experience but as far as I have read from this blog I can see the same story change slightly so I was thinking they are all related to a group of people who had or has connections and has to get caught. I seriously pray to GOD they are judged fairly and learn from their evil acts upon others.

I received a call about having a problem with my computer from an indian sounding person. I tried to mess with him as long as i could (got about 4 mins in)...but he figured out that I was onto him and them gave me a big F-U and hung up. Oh well I had a little fun. BTW I would insult him by calling him stupid and all that ... but oh well.

Watch out for 1st Choice Tech Support out of Florida, 855-875-1572. They just got my 88 year old father for $250. A popup said it would be dangerous to open his browser, and to call tech at that number immediately. We have asked the bank to reverse the charge and cancel his credit card. This company is different, so beware. I talked to a guy at the number who sounded mainstream-nightly-news American, and had a spiel down perfectly. "We are a legitimate company, we are listed on Microsoft's website , we did work on his computer . . ." Still a scam. Their listing is in pinpoint.Microsoft, which I understand is very easy to get on. There payments are run through safepaze.com in Nicosia, Cyprus. I maintain my Dad's computer--there was nothing wrong with it. There may be now.

Poppy - nearly identical experience w my 87-year-old father. Except they got my dad for $550; I found out by sheer luck a day and a half later while helping him with his computer. The bummer is that my dad handed over an "electronic check" - i.e. read off his checking account number...

Seems like I talked to the same bright-sounding guy at the other end, who after 20 minutes of trying to talk me into a reduced charge, said he'd reverse the charge, citing the same "safepaze" payment processor.

I didn't tell this guy that, AFAICT, no ACH transactions have actually yet hit my dad's checking account, which I had immediately frozen.

Now I'm trying to figure out whether we're going to have to close the checking account. What a hassle.

Unethical operation; should be shut down.

It would be really helpful if you'd report this to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. The details you provide go into a database that law enforcement can use for investigations nationwide.

Blog comments aren't part of the law enforcement database.

So when are you going to put First Choice tech support of Florida out of "business"????

Tonight their phone number was 877-592-3547. I called them to find out who had taken over my browser, but recognized it as a scam by looking at the quaint take-off on the blue screen of death they use on the browser while their malware is active.

The man I spoke with denied it was even possible that their software was at fault. I told him I was going to investigate them (yeah right -- I suspect he muted the phone to laugh at me).

I lost nothing but a little time and a little of my temper, but I consider the blue screen takeover itself to be theft of services.

These are useful details for a complaint. Please report your experience at ftc.gov/complaint. We can't address complaints if they are submitted through the blog comments.

I got a call about the same issue. I thanked the caller and told him I was having computer problems and did not know what to do. He started telling me to enter my windows and I followed his instructions. I kept going along with him, then he asked what message my computer was showing. I told him the message read " the guy on the phone is about to rob you" he said " it really says that"? I just hung up.

I have never fallen for the "We're from Windows" scammers, but they keep calling (India or Pakistan?). If I block their number, they eventually migrate to another one, calling after 11PM and before 7AM, sometimes three or four times a day. This has been going on since at least 2013--not as long as "Rachel from card holder services", but it seems nearly as long.

My call blocking service allows for only 25 numbers. Between them and the "back brace" and "merchant services" calls, those 25 slots get eaten up pretty quickly.

I'm pretty certain that all of these "spoofed" calls are VoIP origin. How about revising the rules for spoofing call numbers? It should be pretty evident to the telcos whether a call actually originates from the number claimed in the caller ID.

At any rate, area code 989 spoofs seem to be a popular target.

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