October 20 2014

Don't Fall for this Phone Scam - What You Need to Know

By: Rich Hosford

Protect your computer, personal information and identity by avoiding this scam. 


According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), there is a new scam where people use the telephone to try and gain access to your computer. This scam was recently reported to have been successfully attempted against a Burlington resident. 


The way it works is a person will call claiming to be a tech associate with a well-known company, or a technical-sounding company. They will tell the resident they’ve detected malware on their computer and try to trick them into giving them remote access. 

If the resident gives remote access the caller will then like do one of the following, according to the FTC: 


  • • Try to enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program

  • • Ask for credit card information so they can bill you for phony services — or services you could get elsewhere for free

  • • Trick you into installing malware that could steal sensitive data, like user names and passwords

  • • Direct you to websites and ask you to enter your credit card number and other personal information


“If you get a call from someone who claims to be a tech support person, hang up and call the company yourself on a phone number you know to be genuine,” a notice from the FTC states. “A caller who creates a sense of urgency or uses high-pressure tactics is probably a scam artist.” 


The FTC says that if you get a call like this, to follow these tips:


• Don’t give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.


• Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller. Criminals spoof caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company or a local number, when they’re not even in the same country as you.

  • • Online search results might not be the best way to find technical support or get a company’s contact information. Scammers sometimes place online ads to convince you to call them. They pay to boost their ranking in search results so their websites and phone numbers appear above those of legitimate companies. If you want tech support, look for a company’s contact information on their software package or on your receipt.

  • • Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from tech support.

  • • If a caller pressures you to buy a computer security product or says there is a subscription fee associated with the call, hang up. If you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly and ask for help.

  • • Never give your password on the phone. No legitimate organization calls you and asks for your password.

  • • Put your phone number on the National Do Not Call Registry, and then report illegal sales calls.


If you have already responded to a scam, or believe you have, the FTC says not to panic. Instead take these steps: 

• Get rid of malware. Update or download legitimate security software and scan your computer. Delete anything it identifies as a problem. 

• Change any passwords that you gave out. If you use these passwords for other accounts, change those accounts, too.

• If you paid for bogus services with a credit card, call your credit card provider and ask to reverse the charges. Check your statements for any other charges you didn’t make, and ask to reverse those, too.

• If you believe that someone may have accessed your personal or financial information, visit the FTC’s identity theft website. You can minimize your risk of further damage and repair any problems already in place.

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