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Be Wary of the Tech Support Scammers

Picture of a scammer at a computer.
Scammers are a real threat to your finances.

This scam starts with scammers getting your name and phone number from a public directory. They are assuming what operating system you are using or get you to tell them.

Once they have you on the phone, they often try to gain your trust by pretending to be associated with well-known computer companies and confuse you with technical terms. They will get you to admit something is wrong with your computer, even if there are not problems.

Once they’ve gained your trust, they may:

  • Ask you to give them remote access to your computer and then make changes to your settings that could leave your computer vulnerable
  • Try to enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program
  • Try to get you to log into your credit union accounts while they watch
  • Ask for credit card information so they can bill you for phony services or services you could get elsewhere for free
  • Trick you into installing malware that could steal sensitive data, like usernames and passwords
  • Direct you to websites and ask you to enter your credit card number and other personal information

Their tactics are designed to scare you into believing they can help fix your “problem.”

Regardless of the tactics they use, they have one purpose: to make money.

If You Get a Call

If you get a call from someone who claims to be a tech support person, hang up and call the company yourself on a phone number you know to be genuine.

  • Don’t give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.
  • Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller. Criminals spoof caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company or a local number, when they’re not even in the same country as you.
  • Online search results might not be the best way to find technical support or get a company’s contact information. Scammers sometimes place online ads to convince you to call them. They pay to boost their ranking in search results so their websites and phone numbers appear above those of legitimate companies. If you want tech support, look for a company’s contact information on their software package or on your receipt.
  • Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support.
  • If a caller pressures you to buy a computer security product or says there is a subscription fee associated with the call, hang up. If you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly and ask for help.
  • Never give your password on the phone. No legitimate organization calls you and asks for your password.
  • Put your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry, and then report illegal sales calls.

Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support

Picture of a scammer at an ATM.
Scammers want one thing. Your credit card.

If You’ve Responded to a Scam

If you think you might have downloaded malware from a scam site or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer take these actions:

  • Get rid of malware. Update or download legitimate security software and scan your computer. Delete anything it identifies as a problem.
  • Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use the same passwords for other accounts, change those accounts, too.
  • If you believe that someone may have accessed your personal or financial information, visit the FTC’s identity theft website. You can minimize your risk of further damage and repair any problems already in place.
  • File a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.