How to Protect Yourself from the New Tech Support Scam

Maureen Mahoney
Public Policy Fellow

Friday, April 8th, 2016

One of the most pervasive – and virulent – phone scams is the tech support scam. Hundreds of consumers have told us about the unsolicited calls from purported tech support staffers who claim that your computer is in trouble – and asks for access to your computer to fix it.

Now there’s a new version of the tech support scam. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reports that they’ve heard from consumers about calls, supposedly from the “Global Privacy Enforcement Network.” The callers say that your email has been compromised and is releasing fraud emails.

The scammers will then threaten you with legal action unless you hand over control of your computer. Once in, scammers could access important personal and financial information about you – and even screw up your computer.

Making matters even more confusing, there actually is a Global Privacy Enforcement Network. Consumers who look it up will find a legitimate website – so the scammers will send you there to make their claims seem genuine. They’ll also give out the FTC’s number, supposedly so that you can verify their claims (that may be why the FTC was tipped off so quickly to the scam.)

This is a variation on a common scam that’s been victimizing consumers for years – and that can be very costly for consumers. Marilyn from San Jose says: I was contacted by phone by a man who said he could help me with the problems I was having on my computer. An hour later he had convinced me to disconnect all my internal protections, and must have had the keys to controlling my computer by then. Really messed up the computer.”

What can you do to protect yourself? The FTC has a few tips tailored to this particular scam:

  • Don’t hand control of your computer over to someone else – especially someone who contacts you unsolicited;
  • Don’t give out personal or financial information to someone contacting you over the phone or Internet;
  • Don’t let anyone pressure you into taking action immediately – just hang up!
  • Do contact your computer security company immediately if you are worried. But don’t use the number provided to you over the phone or computer. Use the number that you have on file.

Remember – no tech support staffer will contact you unsolicited, either over the phone or over the Internet. For more information, please click here for our tips on avoiding the tech support scam. And keep in mind that a foolproof way of avoiding telephone scam calls is to block them before they get to you! Click here to join our campaign to end unwanted robocalls, and help put a stop to phone scammers.

View all Campaign Updates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *