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downloadFor most of us, our computers are a central part of our everyday life. So when tech support calls and informs you there is a problem with your computer, it’s only natural to follow their directions to ensure important documents, precious photographs, and your iTunes library aren’t lost to a virus or ransomware attack.

The problem is: those tech support callers aren’t really tech support and you just paid them big bucks to remove a problem that doesn’t exist. Or worse, gave them access to your computer.

The proliferation of tech support scams prompted the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to launch an initiative called “Operation Tech Trap,” which aims to crack down on tech support scammers tricking consumers into paying hundreds by claiming they can get rid of destructive malware or viruses on your computer. Working together with state authorities and international partners, the FTC announced 16 new civil and criminal actions consisting of complaints, settlements, indictments, and guilty pleas.

How do tech support scams work?

Appearing in the form of pop-ups that closely resemble Windows or Mac security alerts, these deceptive advertisements warn of a virus and contain a phone number that users can call for ‘help.’ The fake numbers connect to call centers where scammers create fictional problems and use pressure to exploit your fear of losing important work, information, and details. Another variation of the tech-support scam involves scammer’s cold-calling consumers and saying they’ve been notified of a problem with your computer.

Tips for consumers:

  • Never give a third party control of your computer unless you know they are a verified computer support team.
  • Legitimate companies would never contact you out of the blue claiming they have knowledge about problems with your computer.
  • Do not click on pop-ups!
  • Keep anti-virus software up-to-date and turn on your computer’s pop-up blocking setting.

For more tips check out our previous blog posts on Tech Support Scams and Pop-Up scams.

If you’re the victim of a tech-support scam be sure to let our Office and the Attorney General’s office know and report it to the FTC.

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s Lemon Laws, data breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the state’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

 

 

 

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