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.
OK, it’s not really Check Your Phone Bill Day. But how about checking your wireless phone bill anyway? Pull it up online, dig out your paper copy, or if you don’t get a detailed bill from your phone company, go ahead and ask for one (we’ll wait).
Does your dad think spyware is James Bond’s tux? When you tell him to be careful about phishing, does he ask you about mercury levels in the lake? When you remind him to clear the cookies on his PC, does he remind you he doesn’t eat in the office?
If you answered yes to any of these, it may be time to give Dad a lesson in cyberspeak.
If you've ever gotten a text message on your cell phone telling you that you've won a free prize, you're not alone. During the past year, the FTC has gotten tens of thousands of complaints about unsolicited text messages.
Earlier this week, we wrote about a recent twist in so-called scareware schemes, where scammers send alarming messages to try to convince you that your computer is infected with viruses or other malware. Then, they try to sell you software to fix the problem. At best, the software is worthless or available elsewhere for free. At worst, it could be malware — software designed to give criminals access to your computer and your personal information.