Learn how to spot potential tech scams

The American Press

The Federal Trade Commission recently warned consumers to beware of a high-tech scam that could result in high-tech theft.

“Tech support scams, which get people to pay for fake computer help or steal their personal information are convincing,” said Amy Hebert, FTC Consumer Education Specialist. “You might already know the signs of a tech support scam, but do your friends and family? 

Here’s what they need to know now:

• Companies like Microsoft don’t call and ask for access to your computer. If you get a call like that, it’s a scam.

• Real companies also won’t ask for your account passwords. Only scammers do.

• Tech support scammers try to convince you they’re legitimate. They’ll pretend to know about a problem on your computer. They’ll ask you to open normal files that look alarming to make you think you need help.

Here’s what you need to know if you really need computer help.

• If you do need computer help, go directly to a person, business, or website you know you can trust. General online searches are risky because they might pull up another scam.

• If you paid with a credit or debit card, call your credit card company or bank immediately and tell them what happened.

• If you paid with a gift card, contact the gift card company (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) ASAP to see if the funds are still on the card and can be frozen before it’s too late.

The FTC also notes that if the tech support scammer has access to your computer, he can install malware.

“Update your computer’s security software, scan yours, and delete anything it identifies as a problem,” Hebert said. “Restart your computer to be sure the changes take effect.”

The FTC also advises consumers to download security updates as soon as they are available. 

Most operating systems have a setting to download security updates automatically. 

“Use it. And install updates for your other software, including apps,” Hebert said.

You can also report your experience to ftc.gov/complaint. Putting a stop to these high-tech crooks is in everybody’s interest.

This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Crystal Stevenson, John Guidroz, retired editor Jim Beam and retired staff writer Mike Jones

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