July 30, 2014

Attorney General warns of computer tech support scam

The Attorney General’s office is warning about a computer tech support scam.

Office Mediation Center in the Attorney General Office has received more than 10 reports this week about phone calls from those falsely claiming to represent Microsoft. The scam calls seek to gain access to sensitive information stored on computers.

“Tech support scammers pose as legitimate business representatives to turn the victims’ desire for security against them,” Attorney General Jon Bruning said in a written statement. “You can’t know who is on the other end of unsolicited phone calls, regardless of what they claim. Nebraskans should never provide access to personal or business computers to people they don’t know.”

According to the Attorney General’s office, here’s how the scam works:

• Consumers receive phone calls from individuals posing to be with Microsoft or another legitimate support group (Dell, McAfee, Norton).

• Scammers claim an imminent security threat has been detected with the consumers’ computer.

• Callers may direct consumers to utility areas of their computers (such as the system log) to demonstrate how the computer is infected.

• Scammers request to “verify” consumer information so they can help correct the problem.

• The caller offers software available for download or offers to directly update the consumer’s current system.

• Consumers may be routed to dummy websites that allow scammers to remotely access their computers.

• Once the scammer gains access to the consumer’s computer, they can either install fraudulent software directly or may request bank account information to charge for installing fraudulent security “upgrades”.

• Tech support scammers can then use personal information gained from the transaction to perpetrate identity theft or make fraudulent charges to the victims’ accounts.

The Federal Trade Commission, according to the Attorney General’s office, has launched an international crackdown on this type of scam, which has mostly been based in India. The FTC reports telemarketers use 130 different phone numbers and 80 different web addresses in the scam.

To report a possible scam or file a complaint, call the Attorney General’s Office at (800) 727-6432 or go to its website ago.ne.gov. Also, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission online at ftccomplaintassistant.gov or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).