Scammers are getting more and more sophisticated in their efforts to steal your money and your identity.
Who Is It Targeting: Computer users
What Is It: A tech support scam that occurs in multiple stages over several days
What Are They After: This tech support scam is almost too bizarre to be believed. The level of involvement, effort, and planning it took to pull it off makes you wonder why the scammers wouldn’t just get a job instead of breaking the law.
This true report describes a woman who saw a popup box on her computer. She called the number and gave remote access to her computer to the person on the phone. This individual, while pretending to “clean out” the infected files while she watched, was actually stealing information from her computer, including her banking information.
Days later, the scammer called her back and explained that the antivirus software he’d installed—which cost her $300—was faulty and therefore had to be removed, and a refund given. He pulled up her online banking on her screen, had her log in, and she watched while he “accidentally” refunded her $3000 instead of $300. He panicked at his “mistake,” and begged her to go purchase $2700-worth of gift cards at Walmart so he didn’t lose his job.
Fortunately, when he asked her to read him the numbers off the back of the cards, the victim became suspicious. A quick call to her bank confirmed that they’d blocked the original $300 she’d paid for the bogus antivirus protection and that the screen the scammer had shown her wasn’t even real. He’d created it by using information he’d gleaned when he searched through her files; unfortunately, when he asked her to log into her bank account to issue that refund, he was actually stealing her identifying information and her account details, so he made off with her Social Security number, birth date, and more.
How Can You Avoid It:
- Never click on a pop-up box that warns you of an infection on your computer.
- Don’t get tech support help from someone who calls you or from someone who flashes their phone number across your screen.
- Never, ever give out your information to a caller, or let someone else take over your computer if you weren’t the one who initiated the request for help.
If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530.