A recent report by the U.S. Department of Justice revealed the largest coordinated fraud effort to affect older adults in history: tech support scams. In recent years, over two million Americans have been victims to the tune of close to $1 billion.
How it happens
Scammers trick their targets into giving them remote access to their computers in the guise of providing technical support. Here are some examples of how it can happen:
Someone calling and claiming to be computer technicians from a well-known company
Internet pop-ups warning on computer problems that don’t exist
The person being scammed is persuaded to give remote computer access to the scammer, who can then steal sensitive information or install spyware that gathers information that can be used for fraud purposes. In some cases, victims have even signed in to their accounts online and given the scammer the ability to transfer funds out of the accounts.
Letters that look official and personalized, offering cash, prizes or other things of value for recipients who send payment to cover fees or taxes.
Someone posing as a relative; e.g., a grandchild who’s in trouble in a foreign country and needs money to handle the problem.
Fake financial services websites offering loans to those who are credit-challenged.
Someone posing as a government official stating the victim has won a large amount of sweepstakes money and money is needed to claim it.
No matter what our age, we’re all susceptible to any type of fraud. The Federal Trade Commission has some great resources – take a look at the video and the infographic on the FTC website to learn more about identifying tech support scams. You can also learn more about the most recent scam alerts identified by the FTC.