Marlborough, MA - Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to be extremely skeptical of callers offering computer support services.
Consumers have reported that unknown callers are calling to offer a $313 lifetime plan to clean their computer and keep it operating efficiently. These callers are posing as representatives of technical support firms. The Federal Trade Commission has issued several warnings about the schemes, saying the thieves’ tactics “have one purpose: to make money.”
While it is unclear exactly how many people have fallen victim to similar calls, the FTC has said they are aware of more than 40,000 complaints connected to what are generally called “tech support scams.”
Often, callers say they represent well-known companies like Microsoft, but other times they say they are affiliated with more generic, unfamiliar firms. Sometimes they claim they have been alerted that the consumer’s computer has been infected, or they promise to protect the computer from future problems. The goal is to obtain access to banking information so they can withdraw money from consumers’ accounts.
“These scammers are relentless, offering to protect your computer from viruses and malware,” Paula Fleming, vice president for the local BBB, said. “In reality, they are the virus; their goal is to take you for as much as they can get.”
In October 2012, the FTC announced a major international crackdown on tech support scams. At that time, a U.S. district court judge ordered a halt to six alleged tech support scams, pending further hearings, and froze their assets.
At that time, the FTC said that most of the suspect operations are based in India and target English-speaking consumers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
BBB offers the following tips to avoid tech support scams:
Be wary of answering calls from unknown numbers. Instead, let the call go to voicemail and if it’s important, they will leave a message.
Never turn over control of your computer or give your computer password to someone you don’t know.
Do not give banking, credit card or other personal information to an unknown caller.
If a caller notifies you that he or she has detected a virus or other threat to your computer, hang up.
If you have any concerns about your computer, contact your security software company directly and ask for help.
If you do pay for tech support services, pay with a credit card in case you need to challenge the charge. Never send money via a wire service.
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/boston.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2014, consumers turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 4.7 million businesses, all available for free at bbb.org. BBB Serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont, founded in 1912, is one of 112 local, independent BBBs across North America.
Paula Fleming is VP of Communications & Marketing for Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT. Find Paula on Google+.