A local North Alabama consumer has reported receiving a phone call from a technical support company claiming to be the Better Business Bureau. In 2015, the consumer was a victim of a ransomware scam. The consumer’s computer was locked and displayed a number to call to have it unlocked and all “infected files” removed. The consumer called the number and spoke with a representative with a company named iYogi. The consumer was advised that to fix the computer, access must be granted and a fee of $500 paid. The consumer was compliant, regained control over his computer and was not contacted by the company again – until this week.
Now, a ‘new’ tech support company, claiming to be the Better Business Bureau, contacted the consumer to offer a refund of the $500 payment made in 2015 since he had been scammed by a bogus tech support company. The consumer was told that to receive the refund, the company needed access to the computer to send a form to be completed and sent back. Upon receipt of the completed form, the refund would be issued within 24 hours.
The tech support company that contacted the consumer in 2015, iYogi, was shut down in April 2018 after losing a government action for scamming consumers. The lawsuit filed in Washington State, accused the company of using deception and scare tactics to pressure consumers into buying unnecessary tech support services. To read the full judgement, go here.
So how can you spot a “tech support” scam before becoming a victim?
Some of the ways scammers target potential victims include:
- “Warning screens. Nearly half of tech support scams begin with an alert message appearing on the computer screen saying a problem has been detected. There will be a number you can call for help. Never call a number that just appears on your computer.
- Cold calls. Another popular way for thieves to get in touch with victims is through cold calls. The caller, claiming to be from Comcast, Norton, Dell, or another tech company, says that servers have detected signs that the consumers’ computer has a security problem. Never give someone who cold calls you any financial information and never let someone who cold calls you have access to your computer. Remember that scammers can spoof official looking phone numbers, so don’t trust your Caller ID.
- Sponsored links. When you use a search engine to look for tech support, be wary of the sponsored ads at the top of the list. Microsoft warns that many of these links go directly to businesses set up to scam consumers.
- Emails. Microsoft recently reported that scammers have begun using email to reach potential victims. A link in the email will take the consumer to a website operated by the scammers that will launch a pop-up with the fake warning and phone number.
What should you do if you realize you have been the victim of a tech support scam?
- Contact your bank immediately. Take your computer to a trusted local business and have it checked out.
- Have any software that authorized remote access to your computer removed.
- Change the passwords of any online access to financial institutions and other sensitive sites.
- File a report with BBB Scam Tracker and with law enforcement authorities, such as the FTC.”