LITTLE ROCK, Ark – AARP is issuing a warning about tech support scams. It’s estimated to impact 3.3 million people a year, with an average loss of more than $450 per victim.
The way this works is someone calls and pretends to be with tech support. They claim your computer or phone is dangerously ill and needs an immediate and costly cure. They end up stealing your money or even your identity and never “fix” your device.
What You Should Know:
- 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 concerning 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 voice mail, and once you listen to the message, decide if it warrants a call back.
- 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 source; most big box electronics retailers offer tech support services.
- 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.
If you feel you have been victimized, you can report it to the FTC.