💻 The FBI is warning everyone with a laptop or PC to be on their guard
💻 Criminals are reaching out with a new tech scam
💻 A surefire way to know if they are trying to rip you off

If you get a call, text or email about your PC slowing down because it’s been infected with malware or some other virus, beware.

Even if your computer is having problems, it’s almost certainly a coincidence, and the person offering help is a fraudster.

The FBI in New Jersey is warning Garden State residents about a variety of different tech support scams that are now circulating.

Bad actors pretending to help you

According to Bobby Singh, supervisory special agent for financial crimes at the FBI Newark Division, criminals will typically impersonate technicians with well-known computer support companies, then offer to fix what in reality are non-existent technology issues, or try to install fraudulent protection from online viruses.

Overworked man lying on laptop

“Most often you get this in an email or a pop-up, then access to victims' computers is often given to the fraudster, they do it so they can gain access to their finances, sometimes it’s offered as free software," he said.

The schemers frequently encourage people to let them install this software, which allows the fraudster to then monitor and essentially manipulate the victim’s computer and gain access to personal bank account information.

Don't become a victim

Singh said to avoid getting ripped off in these scams it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind.

“Legitimate customer and tech support reps will never initiate unsolicited contact with customers, they will not demand immediate payment.”

He noted they will never “request payment via cash, pre-paid gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency.”

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He recommends turning on pop-up blockers on your computer, and to resist the urge to act quickly. Never give someone you don't know remote access to your computer.

Spoofing is easy, don't fall for it

Singh said you should not trust the reading on the caller ID because criminals know how to spoof names and numbers over the phone.

He said there variations of the tech support scam, so “please remain vigilant and do what you would normally do when you’re out and about in public: have that awareness and that vigilance when you’re online.”

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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