DALLAS — You’ve probably seen a popup ad or received a phone call with a message saying that your computer is infected with a virus and it needs immediate attention.
No surprise here: It’s a scam.
“Simply put, these are schemes and scams where fraudsters use your fear of viruses to get you to let down your guard,” explained Phylissia Landix, VP of Public Relations and Communications at the Better Business Bureau.
Today, the Better Business Bureau, along with the Federal Trade Commission and Texas Attorney General’s office, unveiled a new report on just how prevalent this tech support scam is, and the numbers are staggering. Two out of three Americans say they’ve encountered it and those who fall for it can be swindled out of thousands of dollars, as well as left with computers that have been hopelessly compromised by the scammers. The victims come from every walk of life and age group.
“The fact that these corporations will lie and cheat their way to make a buck is what surprises me,” said Gabriella Gonzalez, with the Texas Attorney General’s office.
So what are some of the red flags? Well avoid pop-ups with toll free numbers, as well as cold calls at home. The scam usually comes with dire warnings and “act now” pressure, and they’ll ask for remote access for your computer. Lastly, the scammers will often ask for unusual payment in the form of wire transfers or gift cards.
“Means that are irreversible payments, and so you want to be very wary before you make any payment that can’t be reversed,” Dama Brown, the Southwestern region director for the Federal Trade Commission, said.
So it’s best just to be skeptical about any alert or call you get. Your computer may not have a virus now, but fall for this scheme and you’ll probably end up with much worse.