They’re back, and they’re scarier than fangy blood sucking ghosts: tech support scammers. They want to suck you dry of your last penny.
A tech support scam may go as follows: You receive a call from someone informing you that your computer is infected with a really bad virus and needs prompt attention. The crook tells you he needs remote access to your computer, then proceeds to “fix” a problem that never existed, and you get charged a fee for it. Worse, when they are logged into your device, they install spyware so they can see everything you do on the PC all day long.
There’s a new type of this scam out now, where you get a call and they tell you you’ll get a refund if you’ve previously paid for tech support services. This scam has several variations, but here is the way it unfolds:
- They ask if you were happy with the service. If you say no, they’ll then claim they can get your money back.
- Another claim is that the company is going belly up, and as a result, they’re giving out refunds to individuals who already paid.
- When enough of these phone calls are made, a certain percentage of the recipients will respond exactly the way the fraudsters want them to: The victims will give out their credit card number or bank account information after being told that this is necessary to process the refund.
- The scammer may tell you to create a Western Union account in order to receive the refund. Gee, they may even offer to assist you in filling out the forms (how nice of them!) if you hand over remote access to your computer. But they won’t be putting money in your account; they’ll be taking money from it.
- Get a complaint filed at ftc.gov/complaint.
- If you used a credit card, contact your credit card company and request that they reverse the charge.
- Hang up on anyone who offers a refund if you provide your credit card or bank information or Western Union account number.
- Better yet, why bother even answering a call in the first place if you don’t recognize the caller’s number? And if the caller’s number appears to be from “your” bank or credit card company or from Microsoft or anyone you already know and trust, still don’t answer; if it’s legitimate, they’ll leave a message. Even still, don’t call back the number they give you. If they leave a message, contact the institution via the number that’s on your statements to find out if the caller was legitimate.