Who's really on other end of tech support calls?

July 15, 2013 9:49:42 PM PDT
Getting a live person on the line to help you navigate a tech-problem with your computer can be next to impossible. And now, scammers are taking advantage of that.

Tech support schemes are one of the newest cons, and feds are cracking down on them. But how do the scams work, and how can you protect yourself?

The "Sisters in Christ" Facebook page is colorful, inspirational, and popular, too, with more than 170,000 followers. And apparently, they're also vulnerable to hackers, who replaced wholesome posts on their fan page with adult content.

"We just immediately panicked," scam victim Teresa Allissa Citro said.

Worried about the site's reputation, Citro searched online for "Facebook phone tech support" and found several numbers. She called the first one that popped up. The person who answered said for $129, they'd rescue their page from the hackers and keep them out.

"They also were supposedly putting on some kind of a device so that we couldn't be hacked again," Citro said.

Turns out Citro wasn't talking to Facebook. In fact, the social networking giant doesn't even offer phone tech support. Facebook said, "This was undoubtedly a scam."

"The goal is to get consumers to pay hundreds of dollars for unnecessary computer repair services," said Attorney Colleen Robbin with the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC says scammers rely on two different schemes: Either they cold call you, claiming to be major companies like or they lure you into calling fake online tech support listings like the one Citro fell for.

In both instances, the scammers try to convince you to give them remote access to your computer. Once in, they try to sell you repair services, or scare you by telling you it's riddled with viruses and malware.

"But there's nothing wrong with your computer, and they're not going to fix it for you," said Kevin Haley with Symantec.

That's exactly what Citro learned. The support line she called didn't help her at all.

"I never expected that I wasn't speaking to Facebook because they answered the phone call with, 'This is Facebook technical support,'" Citro saID.

Experts say don't use online search results to find a company's tech support number. Instead, go to the company's website directly and look for that contact information.

Also, never give control of your computer to a third party that you are unsure about.

Find Jeff on Facebook at ABC13JeffEhling or on Twitter at @jeffehlingabc13


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