By Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General // May 14, 2017
TECH SCAMMERS USE FEAR TO EXPLOIT VICTIMS
ABOVE VIDEO: Callers impersonate legitimate technical support companies to fool computer users into handing over their personal information or sending money.
Today, all this information can be stored on a personal computer, and if a tech problem threatens this vital information, people panic.
The fear of losing irreplaceable family photos and the anxiety associated with replacing important government documents sets in—leaving some people willing to do anything to save their computers.
Scammers understand the urgency associated with a computer problem and use fear to trick people into paying for unneeded repairs. This fear is the driving force behind tech support scams.
These scams are becoming more prevalent in Florida and across the country. They typically begin with a pop-up ad claiming a computer is infected with a virus.
The ads urge users to call a tech support specialist and provide a phone number.
Once the victim calls, the scammer instructs the user through a series of commands to give them virtual control over the victim’s computer.
At this point, sensitive information is at risk. Scammers can install real malware, steal passwords or access financial accounts. Mostly, they claim to fix the nonexistent problem, charge the user a few hundred dollars and set up monthly tech support payments.
Often the victim thanks the scammer for fixing the problem—not realizing they were just swindled.
All this may sound scary, because it is; but in Florida we are fighting tech support scammers every day—and we have had a lot of success.
My office has more filed cases against these types of scams than any other state agency in the country.
We are also teaming up with our federal partners to combat these scams nationwide. Just this week, standing with representatives of the Federal Trade Commission, I announced three new cases in Florida.
Our office is also working with the FTC to warn consumers about the dangers associated with tech support scams and offer tips to protect against them.
If you receive a suspicious pop-up ad claiming your computer is infected with a virus, do not call the number provided or click any links. Instead click the X in the upper-right corner to close the window.
If you have real concerns that your computer has a problem, call a reputable computer repair business. The best thing to do to prevent tech support scams is to install antivirus software and keep it updated.
Help them install security software and talk to them about never opening solicitation emails or clicking on suspicious pop-up ads.
Finally, we cannot help if we do not know you have been targeted.
If you or someone you know has received one of these solicitation, record the name, number and any other pertinent information associated with the solicitation. Then call my office at (866) 9NO-SCAM.
Knowing what to look for, reporting suspicious solicitations and working together we can stop scammers targeting Floridians.