Herring Warns Virginians About Tech Support, Repair Services Scams
03/07/2019 Release from the Office of Attorney General Mark Herring:
RICHMOND (March 7, 2019) - Attorney General Mark R. Herring is warning Virginians about scammers who try to trick consumers into buying costly tech support and repair services as part of a nationwide crackdown on these scams. Attorney General Herring, in coordination with attorneys general from across the country through the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), has joined the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other regulators to combat tech support scams. As part of this effort, NAAG and the Department of Justice today announced a sweep of elder fraud cases and focused particular attention on tech support scams as a major threat to senior citizens.
“Unfortunately, fraudsters are ever-evolving and always coming up with new and relevant ways to scam consumers,” said Attorney General Herring. “I would encourage Virginians to be vigilant about anyone contacting them with threats or high pressure sales tactics, whether by mail, phone, or online and remember to never send money to a company or person who you are not sure is trustworthy.”
These scams work in similar ways. Scammers use phone calls and online ads resembling security alerts from major technology companies to trick consumers into contacting the operators of these schemes and providing access to the consumers’ computers. The scammers will claim consumers’ computers are infected with viruses or experiencing other problems. They then try to pressure consumers into buying unnecessary computer repair services, service plans, anti-virus protection or software, and other products and services.
Here are some tips to avoid tech support scams:
- Be on the lookout for scams which try to make you believe you have a serious problem with your computer, like a virus;
- Do not pay for services by wiring money, putting money on a gift card, iTunes card, prepaid card or cash reload card, or using a money transfer app because these types of payments can be hard to reverse;
- Beware of fake computer technicians pretending to be from a well-known company requesting remote access to your computer and then pretending to run a diagnostic test;
- If you get a phone call you didn’t expect from someone who says there’s a problem with your computer, hang up;
- Beware of scammers who try to lure you with a pop-up window that appears on your computer screen, which might look like a security issue or error message from your operating system or antivirus software, and which might use logos from trusted companies or websites;
- If you get this kind of pop-up window on your computer, don’t call the number as real security warnings and messages will never ask you to call a phone number;
- Look out for illegitimate websites that show up in online search results for tech support, or other ads;
- If you think there may be a problem with your computer, update your computer’s security software and run a scan;
- If you need help fixing a problem, go to someone you know and trust, for instance the company you purchased the software from or a store that sells computer equipment and offers technical support in person;
- If you paid a tech support scammer with a credit or debit card, contact your credit card company or bank right away, tell them what happened and ask if they can reverse the charges;
- If you paid with a gift card, contact the company that issued the card right away and ask if they can refund your money;
- If you gave a scammer remote access to your computer, update your computer’s security software, run a scan and delete anything it identifies as a problem; and
- If you gave your user name and password to a tech support scammer, change your password right away and on any other sites that have the same password.
Virginians who have a question, concern, or complaint about a consumer matter should contact Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section:
Since 2014, Attorney General Herring’s Consumer Protection Section has recovered more than $292 million in relief for consumers and payments from violators. The Section has also transferred more than $33 million to the Commonwealth’s General Fund. Following a major reorganization and enhancement in 2016, the OAG’s Consumer Protection Section has been even more effective in fighting for the rights of Virginians.