Attorney General Jon Bruning today issued an alert for Nebraskans to be wary of scams related to computer tech support. The Attorney General’s Office Mediation Center has received more than 10 reports this week regarding scam phone calls from those falsely claiming to represent Microsoft in order to gain access to sensitive information stored on victims’ computers.
“Tech support scammers pose as legitimate business representatives to turn the victims’ desire for security against them,” said Bruning. “You can’t know who is on the other end of unsolicited phone calls, regardless of what they claim.
Nebraskans should never provide access to personal or business computers to people they don’t know.”
Here’s how the scam works:
- Consumers receive phone calls from individuals posing to be with Microsoft or another legitimate support group (Dell, McAfee, Norton).
- Scammers claim an imminent security threat has been detected with the consumers’ computer.
- Callers may direct consumers to utility areas of their computers (such as the system log) to demonstrate how the computer is infected.
- Scammers request to “verify” consumer information so they can help correct the problem.
- The caller offers software available for download or offers to directly update the consumer’s current system.
- Consumers may be routed to dummy websites that allow scammers to remotely access their computers.
- Once the scammer gains access to the consumer’s computer, they can either install fraudulent software directly or may request bank account information to charge for installing fraudulent security “upgrades”.
- Tech support scammers can then use personal information gained from the transaction to perpetrate identity theft or make fraudulent charges to the victims’ accounts.
This week, the Federal Trade Commission launched an international crackdown on this type of scam, mostly based in India. According to the FTC, the bulk of these calls are made from telemarketing facilities utilizing 130 different phone numbers and 80 different web addresses.
If you or someone you know has been targeted by a tech support scam, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 727-6432 or www.ago.ne.gov. For more information on this and other scams, contact the Federal Trade Commission online at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).