Tech support scams in which consumers are tricked by scammers into believing there is a problem with their computers that require the expensive services of the scammers is a major problem.  Tech support scams are increasingly common and victimize consumers 60 years or older about five times more than people between the ages of 20 and 59 according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).   While often these scams start with a popup on your screen that informs you that a tech company with which you do business has found a problem with your computer, they also can originate with a phone call.  The FTC has taken action against telemarketers who convince consumers to provide access to their computers to the scammers who would then purport to run diagnostic tests.  These diagnostic tests were totally bogus and always resulted in the consumer being told that he or she needed computer repair as well as antivirus software and services that would be provided at a high cost.

Recently a Scamicide reader received a robocall from a scammer posing as an Apple employee.  In the call, the scammer indicated that technical problems had been discovered by Apple that needed to be corrected and provided a telephone number for the targeted victim to call to fix the problem.  Of course, this is a scam even though the call appeared on the targeted victim’s Caller ID as coming from Apple.  Through a technique called spoofing, the scammers are able to manipulate your Caller ID to make it appear as if the call is legitimate when it is not.  Fortunately, the Scamicide reader recognized the telltale signs of a scam and did not call the number from the robocall, but instead called Apple where she was told that Apple never makes such calls and that it was a scam.

TIPS

Providing remote access to anyone to your computer can lead to a myriad of problems including identity theft and the downloading of ransomware.  Neither AOL, Yahoo, Apple, Microsoft or any of the other tech companies ever  ask for remote access to your computer to fix problems.  The most common tech support scams start with popups on your computer that provide notices of security problems that contain telephone numbers for you to call to fix the problem,   Whenever you get a pop-up, email, or text message that appears to tell you that you have a security problem with your computer, you should never click on any links contained in the message or call the telephone number provided. If your screen freezes, all you need to do is just turn off your computer and restart it. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing a real security problem you can contact tech support at the real tech companies directly by phone or by email using the phone number and email addresses you find on their respective websites.

Tech companies do not use robocalls such as this to contact their customers so if you receive one, you can be sure that it is a scam.

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