Milwaukee, Wis. – Many people are savvy enough to know that tech support scammers often reach out to potential victims by phone or with a popup. Even if the person takes a few minutes to look online for a number to reach Netflix, Microsoft, Amazon, Roku or another type of online service for help, BBB advises using caution. Scammers will post fake customer support numbers online to fool callers into purchasing unrelated computer software or use a convincing script to remote access a device to cause all kinds of technical issues the user didn’t need. Unfortunately, many large companies – from Netflix to Amazon – have been affected by this scam.
How the Scam Works:
Your laptop is acting up or a streaming service is freezing repeatedly. A quick search online reveals the customer support phone number, typically a toll-free number (1-888 or 1-844 number). Once dialed, a “representative” answers and with a few pieces of information provided, the “representative” declares that your account has been hacked.
Skeptical? The “representative” reassures that they can provide proof that the account was hacked; however, they first need remote access to your computer. By this time, the desire to get the account recovered and information back could be overshadowing the decision to allow a complete stranger to remote access your personal computer. Scam artists often will install malware that records passwords, keystrokes, or other files that contain personal information.
According to BBB Scam Tracker reports, this scam is often used as a setup for selling expensive computer security software, costing victims between $200 and $900. Unfortunately, it does nothing to fix things that were never hacked in the first place.
Protect yourself from tech support scams:
- Refer to contact information listed directly on the business’s website, instead of relying on an internet search for support phone numbers (double-check the URL). You can also use the phone number from your latest bill.
- Never allow a stranger remote access to your computer if it has nothing to do with the reason you are calling technical support.
- Avoid clicking on pop-up boxes or ads that tell you that something is wrong with your computer. If a popup doesn’t seem to ‘go away,’ or is difficult to avoid, power down the device immediately and restart it.
- Install virus protection on your computer.
For More Information
Many tech support scams use similar techniques; see BBB.org/techsupportscam for more advice.
To learn more this type of scam and others, go to the BBB scam news feed.
If you’ve been targeted by this scam, help others avoid the same problem by reporting your experience on BBB Scam Tracker.
Read more about BBB Accreditation Standards and BBB Standards for Trust.For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.