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Don't Get Duped by the Tech Support Scam

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With Delawareans being victimized at an alarming rate by fraudulent pop-up messages that warn computer users of a purported virus infection or urgently needed repair, the AARP Fraud Watch Network has launched a major campaign to raise awareness of the “Tech Support Scam.”

Newly launched advertising, social media content and an online video invite people to visit the Fraud Watch Network’s webpage, www.aarp.org/TechScams, to learn about the latest scam tactics.  A booklet co-published by AARP and Microsoft Corp., “ Avoiding Tech Support Scams,” may be downloaded from the site and shared with family and loved ones.

“We’re working hard to educate our Delaware members and the public about this scam,” said Kimberly Iapalucci, Communications Director for AARP Delaware. “A recent survey found that victims have lost an average of $291, and many never realize that they’ve been conned.”

The Tech Support Scam has cost computer users worldwide an estimated $1.5 billion, according to a study by Microsoft. The Federal Trade Commission and federal, state and international partners this month launched “ Operation Tech Trap,” a major crackdown on tech support scammers.

While fraudsters execute the Tech Support Scam via telephone or email, they increasingly are utilizing computer    pop-up ads.  Appearing as if it originated from Apple, Microsoft or another technology company, the frightening pop-up informs a targeted person that a virus or some other security problem has been detected on the victim’s computer.  Once you call the provided “helpline” number, the scammers may:

  • Ask you to give them remote access to your computer and then make changes to your settings that could leave your computer vulnerable;
  • Try to enroll you in a worthless computer maintenance or warranty program;
  • Ask for credit card information so they can bill you for phony services – or services you could get elsewhere for free;
  • Trick you into installing malware that could steal sensitive data, like user names and passwords; and
  • Direct you to websites and ask you to enter your credit card number and other personal information.

For a list of “dos” and “don’ts” and more information about the Tech Support Scam, visit www.aarp.org/TechScams.

Computer users who are targeted by this fraud scheme are urged to report it to the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The AARP Fraud Watch Network was launched in 2013 as a free resource for people of all ages.  The website provides information about fraud and scams, prevention tips from experts, an interactive scam-tracking map, fun educational quizzes, and video presentations featuring Fraud Watch Network Ambassador Frank Abagnale.  Users may sign up for “Watchdog Alert” emails that deliver breaking scam information, or call a free helpline at 877-908-3360 to speak with volunteers trained in fraud counseling.

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