FTC Combats Tech Support Scams

The Federal Trade Commission cracked down on a massive international scam that tricked tens of thousands of computer users into believing their computers were riddled with malware and then paying the scammers hundreds of dollars to “fix” the problem.    

According to complaints filed by the FTC, the scammers called computer users and claimed to be affiliated with legitimate companies, including Dell, Microsoft, McAfee and Norton, and played on people’s fear of computer infections and hackers.

After getting people on the phone, the callers allegedly claimed they had detected malware that posed an imminent threat. To demonstrate the need for immediate help, the scammers directed people to a utility area of their computer and falsely claimed that it demonstrated that the computer was infected. Here’s a screenshot of what computer users saw:

Sample Windws Event Viewer

In reality, these warning messages appear on most computers and are a normal part of the computer’s operating system. They don’t mean that the computer is infected. But that didn’t stop scammers from claiming otherwise. Here’s an actual conversation between one of the scammers and an undercover FTC investigator:

Callers then directed people to a website that would allow the scammers to access the computer remotely. The scammers offered to rid the computer of malware for fees ranging from $130 to $330. The charges were for completely unnecessary repairs and warranty programs, and for software programs that are available for free.

At the request of the FTC, a U.S. District Court Judge has ordered a halt to the alleged scams pending trial, and has frozen the U.S. assets of six operations named in FTC complaints. 

Today, the FTC also released new tips for computer users to help them spot and stop tech support scams and a new video to help people protect their computers from malware:

The FTC acknowledges and appreciates the support it received from the Australian Communications Authority (ACMA), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), and the United Kingdom’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, each of which provided invaluable assistance to the FTC. The CRTC and ACMA also brought administrative actions for violations of their Do Not Call laws.

Later this week, we’ll write more about what you can do to avoid these scams and protect your computer from malware.

Comments

The above video talking about how to keep computers safe and secure needs to add something about not running as Administrator all the time and having a password on Administrator accounts.

I think this has happened to me ,They got 500.00. i paid through safecart.Do you think I can get my money back?

If you paid with a credit card or an online payment provider, contact them right away to ask for a refund. I would also contact the website where you bought the service and ask for a refund.

This is terrible. We can only do so much regarding protecting ourselves online but there are still people who like to take advantage. Despite the fact that spreads like wildfire, I am not very comfortable putting my invoices to an untouchable storage. There is just a lot of stress regarding this matter.

call 888 766 7543 or 888 766 3693 work 3rd paty google problems and g mail problems.they are doing same thimg as above malware ans infeted adware spy s on your whole computor.bank accounts are all compromissed

July 10, 2013

Please beware of a scam I encountered July 8, 2013. PCMask is the company. Somehow they diverted my actual search (sync-ing my new phone to Outlook on my PC) to their call center. Lots of very loud men talking one-sided conversations --- listener beware!

They asked for access to my computer to fix the problem (sync-ing in my case). Then “he sat inside my computer” (‘cause I did it to myself by listening) while this “non-sales pitch” continued.

The first manipulation inside my computer was to show 2 black screens side-by-side with white printing. The man went to a section in my computer where all old errors noted by your anti-virus are kept in a file. These are not viruses sitting inside the computer. Rather it’s an historical record only. The “non-salesman” ran through this and put it on a loop so that it looked like thousands of these virus in my computer. The right-hand screen was a scrolling visual pattern, so I realized after 3-4 times that it was a looping one. (You can get rid of this … go to the blog mentioned next about Indian call centers.)

I’ve been using computers since 1964, through all their many changes, so I recognized that lots of things this man said were inaccurate and inappropriate. When I called him on it, he passed me to his manager who talked down to me. Finally I knew that it was a poor company when the salesman declared that Norton and McAfee antivirus software have been proven useless.

Still I was tired and ended up ready to purchase the $250 product. I was lucky, because my bank would not process either a check from my account nor my credit card until the bank opened the next business day. There were flags on this company and their international number in India. They claimed to be in Phoenix, but latter through their billing department I was told it was India.

At this point I unplugged my computer and my wireless router. I ran a Norton-360 scan and fixed any errors. Then I went online for their latest Norton “Power Eraser” and cleaned up that way. There are other things to do, so go to this blog for the information from a PCMask angry employee:

http://indiancallcenterscam.blogspot.com/2011/11/hi-everyone-recently-i-was-working-in.html Despite every word this company said, the employees are not “Microsoft Certified Engineers”.

The company has called me regularly claiming that they fixed my computer (Nope) and that I owe them this money (Nope). Although I have a “reject” on it, my new phone doesn’t automatically throw out the call (yuk). The area code is 754-

Try these websites for scam protection:
http://www.informationweek.com/security/client/microsoft-tech-support-scams-why-they-th/240154756

http://www.scamwatch.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/792165 Australian government

Disgruntled White-Hair :(

Received call 425-668-9652. Clamed to be from windows?? and said my computer was infected. Told them I did not trust them and would not allow them to tell me what to do on my computer. Eventually he hung up. Had Indian accent.

How do I report them??? I have two of their phone numbers. Note that I never opened my computer in that I knew the call was a scam in thr first place. Knowing that they are a scam, how is it they're still in business. phone numbers are 855-243-2038 and 855-428-9679

You can report them at ftc.gov/complaint.

Well I am glad the government cracked down but - newsflash:-

I got a call of this type In July of this year and one last week and again today. The call shows up in Caller ID as Private Name and Private Number which does not help when you want to report this activity via the FTC National Do Not Call Registry on line complaint form The call last week and today was from a company calling itself Microtek or Microtech and matched exactly the description in this above article. I just hung up the phone as soon as I realized what these guys were after but there are lots of gullible PC users out there. Time for further government action to put these scumbags out of business again!

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