Tech Support Scams

Technical support scams, where the subject claims to be an employee (or an affiliate) of a major computer software or security company offering technical support to the victim. Recent complaints indicate some subjects are claiming to be support for cable and Internet companies to offer assistance with digital cable boxes and connections, modems, and routers. The subject claims the company has received notifications of errors, viruses, or security issues from the victim's internet connection. Subjects are also claiming to work on behalf of government agencies to resolve computer viruses and threats from possible foreign countries or terrorist organizations.

Initial contact with the victims occurs by different methods. Any electronic device with Internet capabilities can be affected.

  1. Telephone: This is the traditional contact method. Victims receive a “cold” call from a person who claims the victim's computer is sending error messages and numerous viruses were detected. Victims report the subjects have strong foreign accents.

  2. Pop-up message: The victim receives an on-screen pop-up message claiming viruses are attacking the device. The message includes a phone number to call to receive assistance.

  3. Locked screen on a device (Blue Screen of Death - BSOD): Victims report receiving a frozen, locked screen with a phone number and instructions to contact a (phony) tech support company. Some victims report being redirected to alternate websites before the BSOD occurs. This has been particularly noticed when the victim was accessing social media and financial websites.

  4. Pop-up messages and locked screens are sometimes accompanied by a recorded, verbal message to contact a phone number for assistance.

Once the phony tech support company/representative makes verbal contact with the victim, the subject tries to convince the victim to provide remote access to their device.

If the device is mobile (a tablet, smartphone, etc.), the subject often instructs the victim to connect the device to a computer to be fixed. Once the subject is remotely connected to the device, they claim to have found multiple viruses, malware, and/or scareware that can be removed for a fee. Fees are collected via a personal debit or credit card, electronic check, wire transfer, or prepaid card. A few instances have occurred in which the victim paid by personal check