With so much attention focused on COVID-19 scams and stimulus payment scams, it’s easy to lose sight of some scams that just never go away. One perennial favorite of scammers is tech support. This scam often earns the criminal the ability to load malicious software onto your device to harvest your information.
How It Works
You get an unsolicited phone call or email from a big tech company like Microsoft or Apple, or you see a pop-up message on your screen warning that a virus or other malicious program has infected your device, and you need to call the number on the screen right away.
- A “technician” asks for remote access to your device, and, once in, shows you some files that “prove” you have a major problem.
- The “technician” says they can fix your problem, for a fee, and then may offer you a monthly subscription to keep your device safe.
Big tech companies like Microsoft or Apple say they don’t call customers out of the blue to warn them of problems on their devices.The troublesome files the “technician” may show you on your device are completely benign.
- The scammer may ask you to pay by purchasing a gift card and providing the account number and PIN — a sure sign that it’s a scam, as is a request for payment by wire transfer.
- The scammer may call back months later and offer you a refund for some phony reason, asking for your bank account information to deposit the money. This is a ruse.
What You Should Do
- Screen incoming calls with an answering machine or voicemail, and once you listen to the message, decide if it warrants a callback.
- If the caller claims you have a problem with your computer or the software on your computer, it is a scam, so don’t engage or return the call.
- If you get a pop-up that freezes your screen, shut down your computer and restart it.
- Keep your security software, browser and operating system up-to-date.
- If you think your device is infected, get it checked out by a reputable local source.
- If you realize you’ve fallen victim to this scam, and you’ve paid by credit card, contact your financial institution to dispute the charge and to cancel any monthly fees you may have agreed to.
- Report scams to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint .
When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You have the power to protect yourself and your loved ones from scams. Please share this alert with friends and family.
If you need assistance with understanding any aspects of tech support scams, contact the nearest Seniors Vs. Crime office in The Villages for advice or assistance. Seniors Vs. Crime also has a Speakers Bureau that will gladly come to your club, church, or group to speak about scams. To schedule a presentation, contact any of the offices. There is never a charge for their services. Seniors Vs. Crime can be reached at:
- The Fruitland Park Police Department Annex in the Moyer Recreation Center in The Villages – (352) 674-1882
- The Marion County Sheriff’s Office in The Villages – (352) 753-7775
- The Sumter County Sheriff’s Office in The Villages – (352) 689-4600, Extension 4606
- The Wildwood Police Department Annex at Brownwood in The Villages – (352) 753-0727
During this pandemic, our offices are closed for walk-in complaints. Please call before you come to our offices. Hours may vary or may require appointments. You can also file online, or by calling 1-(800)-203-3099. Our staff will call you back and you can file your complaint over the phone.
Volunteers at all four offices are ready, willing and able to assist you. To keep up with the latest scams, LIKE ‘Seniors vs. Crime Region 4’ on Face Book. Hablamos Español. Por favor pregunte por Yolanda. Martes a Viernes: 10:00 A.M. a 2:00 P.M., (352) 689 4606.