“Your computer is damaged ... we’ll help you fix it.” It’s the latest twist on tech support scams: Scammers sell software online that claims to increase your computer’s performance. They lure you to their websites with pop-up ads or web searches. Then, they tell you to call a phone number to activate or register the software. On the phone, they ask for remote access to your computer and then tell you that your computer has many errors that need to be fixed immediately.
Love breezing through tollbooths with your E-Z Pass? A new scam is taking advantage of that.
Here’s how it works: You get an email that appears to be from E-Z Pass. It has the E-Z Pass logo, and says you owe money for driving on a toll road. It also provides a link to click for your invoice.
Guess what? The email isn’t from E-Z Pass. If you click on the link, the crooks running this scam may put malware on your machine. And if you respond to the email with your personal information, they’re likely to steal your identity.
A U.S. District Court recently ordered the operators of several international tech support scams to pay more than $5.1 million for convincing people that their computers were riddled with viruses and then charging for bogus support services.
We’ve written before about tech support scammers. They call and claim to work for well-known companies like Microsoft, Norton or McAfee. They say your computer is infected with malware and then ask for remote access so they can “fix” it. Or they place ads in online search results to trick you into calling them.
Have you gotten an email with the subject line “Pending consumer complaint” that looks like it came from the FTC? The email warns that a complaint against you has been filed with the FTC. It asks you to click on a link or attachment for more information or to contact the FTC.
These emails pull out all the stops to look official: They have an FTC seal, references to the “Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA)” and a “formal investigation,” and what look like real FTC links. The truth is that they’re fakes.
“Hereby you are notified that you have been scheduled to appear for your hearing that will take place in the court of Tallahassee in April 02, 2014 at 09:00 am.” Signed, the Clerk to the Court. Sound official?
Like the fake funeral notices we wrote about recently, emails like this have been going around trying to convince concerned — or curious — people to click on the supposed “court notice.”
You’ve heard it a million times: Don’t click on links in an email unless you know who sent it and what it is.
But sometimes the link in an email is just so darned convenient. For example, you ship a package to a friend, and then you get an email with a link to track the delivery. It’s safe to click that link, right?
If you’ve ever had a virus on your computer, you know what a nightmare it can be — a slow computer that crashes unexpectedly, your contact lists getting messages that you didn’t send, your online accounts vulnerable to hacking.
Perhaps just as frustrating as a virus infecting your computer? Paying someone to get rid of a virus that isn’t there.