WASHINGTON, DC — Senator Susan Collins, who chairs the Senate Aging Committee, is warning of a series of related “technical support” scams meant to trick seniors who own a computer into needlessly paying hundreds of dollars and giving out their private information.
Through these scams, con artists often try to gain a victim’s trust by pretending to be associated with well-known companies such as Microsoft, Apple, or Dell, and then falsely claiming that a victim’s computer has been infected with a virus. Con artist then work to gain remote access to a victim’s computer, personal information, as well as credit card numbers so that victims can be “billed” for fraudulent services.
Senator Collins said, “These scammers take advantage of seniors’ reasonable concerns about viruses and other threats. Putting a stop these aggressive and ruthless scams is among my highest priorities as Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee.” Senator Collins was alerted to the scam by numerous Maine seniors reporting these calls to the Senate Aging Committee Fraud Hotline: 1-855-303-9470.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued tips to help consumers avoid becoming victim to this scam:
-Don’t give control of your computer to a third party who calls you out of the blue.
-Do not rely on caller ID alone to authenticate a caller. Criminals spoof caller ID numbers. They may appear to be calling from a legitimate company or a local number, when they’re not even in the same country as you.
-Never provide your credit card or financial information to someone who calls and claims to be from a technical support entity.
-If a caller pressures you to buy a computer security product or says there is a subscription fee associated with the call, hang up. If you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly and ask for help.
-Make sure you have updated all of your computer’s anti-virus software, firewalls and pop up blockers.
Senator Collins advises seniors to simply hang up the phone if they receive a call from someone claiming to be from a tech support company. Seniors may also report these calls to the FTC (www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov) or to the Senate Aging Committee’s Fraud Hotline: 1-855-303-9470.