In the realm of punishing the perpetrators of internet scams and fraud, it can feel like looking for a needle in a global haystack.

Too often, victims of these types of crimes don’t find the resolution or justice they were hoping for, but the Federal Trade Commission just successfully took action against a group of tech support scammers who stole millions of dollars from their victims.

There are a variety of tech support scams, but in this particular instance, the thieves relied on harmless pop-up boxes that made their victims think their computers had been infected with viruses and other malicious software. There actually was no infection, but the victims didn’t know that. They only followed the instructions in the pop-up. When they called the number, the scammers claimed to be tech support agents for their particular computer model and charged them money to “clean out” the infection and prevent further viruses. The FTC has reached a settlement with the perpetrators in this case, who will be fined more than $800,000 and are permanently barred from engaging in any more scams like these.

Another recent victory for consumers made by the FTC includes a different scam in which callers claimed to actively beworking for the FTC itself!

Unfortunately, not only are scammers located all around the world, they also find new ways to stay one step ahead of law enforcement. Part of that includes coming up with new ways to lure in their victims. That’s why it’s important for consumers to stay informed about the latest threats in order to avoid them as much as possible. By knowing the most recently uncovered tactics, you can learn how to spot suspicious activity. For example:

By knowing the most recently uncovered tactics, you can learn how to spot suspicious activity. For example:

1. Your computer’s manufacturer is not “watching” you, and is not monitoring your use in order to see if you’re infected with a virus.

2. If someone tries to take over your computer to “clean it,” there’s a good chance they’re installing a virus, sifting through your stored information for sensitive data, or both.

3. Only use vetted sources of support and repair, NOT people who reach out to you and request access to your information or money.

4. If your computer is “locked” until you pay the “ransom,” there’s no guarantee that paying the scammer will free up your computer; make sure you back up your information routinely in case you have to install your files on a new computer.

To minimize your risks, it’s important to not only know how to detect one but it’s also imperative to be aware and stay up-to-date on the latest scams.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.