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Voice of the consumer: Tech support scam

Jenna Middaugh
Jenna Middaugh(KKTV)
Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 6:22 AM MDT
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Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Scammers are adapting to the coronavirus pandemic and targeting people’s technology as more families work from home. The AARP Fraud Watch Network is warning of a tech-support scam that’s impacting a lot of people right now.

It starts with a phone call that appears to be from a computer company or other technology business. The person on the other line claims a virus has been detected on your device that requires immediate attention.

Another version of this scam starts on your computer, phone or tablet. You might see a pop-up message warning you that your device is infected. The message tells you to call a number or click a link right away.

As part of the scam, a “technician” will ask for remote access to your device. They may offer to fix the problem for a fee and then suggest a monthly subscription to keep your computer, phone or tablet safe. You might be asked to pay by credit card, or the person on the other end of the line could ask you to buy a gift card or reloadable card and give them the account number and PIN. Anytime anyone asks you to pay this way, it is always a red flag.

This scam could also be prolonged with the “technician” calling back months later offering a refund. In this case, the scammer will ask for your bank account information to deposit the money. This is also a red flag. Never give any personal, banking or financial information to someone you don’t know over the phone.

In addition to conning you out of money, if you give the “technician” access to your device, the person could install malware on it to get access to your usernames and passwords to get into all of your accounts. If you get a pop-up that tells you to call a number or click a link, close out of it. If it freezes your screen, shut down your device and restart it.

If you do give someone remote access to your computer, phone or tablet, immediately shut the device down, and take it to a trusted expert to look at.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network says big tech companies will not call customers to warn them about problems on their devices. If someone calls you claiming there’s a problem and you’re concerned, hang up and take your device to an expert to look at.

AARP recommends people screen their phone calls with an answering machine or voicemail. That way you know who’s reaching out to you, and you can decide if the message deserves a callback.

If you fell victim to a scam like this, or any type of fraud scheme, you can report it to the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline. The number is 877-908-3360. You can read about more scams and sign up for Watchdog Alerts by visiting AARP.org/money/scams-fraud/

Remember, you can also report scams, fraud and price gouging to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. The consumer hotline number is 800-222-4444.

Click here to read the original column on gazette.com.

Copyright 2020 KKTV. All rights reserved.

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