Q. We received a tech support call stating our IP address had been compromised. My wife hung up on the caller; is that real or a scam?
A. Wise move for your wife. Scammers have been duping consumers with a tech support scam that claims your IP address has been compromised. BBB is seeing an increasing number of these cons reported to BBB.org/ScamTracker. There are two versions of this scam consumer and businesses should be ready to spot.
How the Scam Works
In one version of the scam, a pop-up suddenly appears on your computer screen with an ominous warning from a well-known tech support company. The pop-up will ask you to call a number to resolve the issue. When you call, a "technician" will tell you your IP address is being used by shady individuals. In some reports, scammers claim child pornography websites are using your IP address, and you could be held responsible for their actions. In a second version of the scam, you simply receive a call out of the blue from someone making similar claims.
In both cases, scammers say they work for a reputable company and can fix the problem, but you'll need to pay a fee and give them remote access to your computer first. Of course, the claims are false! If you believe them, scammers will make off with your money and gain access to any personal information stored on your computer.
How to Protect Yourself
Never open attachments or links in emails from unknown senders. These can generate the fake warning pop-ups that prompt you to make a call to scammers. If you do get a suspicious pop-up alert, don't click on anything and restart your computer.
Be wary of unsolicited calls. A common scam tactic is to make cold calls. Scammers then try to scare you into giving them access to your machine. Don't fold under pressure, simply hang up the phone and block the number.
Never give strangers remote access to your computer. You should only allow remote access to technicians of trustworthy companies that you contacted through a legitimate customer service number or chat. Be advised that once PC's have been controlled by remote access; consumers have reported their computer and personal data being hostage until monies are paid.
For more information on computer tech support scams, visit BBB.org/TechSupportScam, as well as videos and tip from the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov.
If you've been the victim of a tech support scam, report it on the BBB Scam Tracker. By reporting your experience, you can help others avoid falling for the same scam. To research additional consumer and business tips visit, www.bbb.org.
Jim Winsett is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga.