The AARP Fraud Watch Network is issuing an alert Wednesday to be on the lookout for tech support scams.
The scam can take various forms, with a scammer typically posing as an employee from a tech company calling to say the victim’s computer is sending messages that it has a virus.
“A victim sees a pop-up message on his screen claiming viruses are attacking the device,” said Kristin Keckeisen, spokesperson for the Fraud Watch Network. “The message includes a phone number to call for assistance.”
Victims can also see their screen freeze, known as the Blue Screen of Death, with a phone number and instructions to call a tech support company.
“The scammer’s goal is to gain remote control of your device,” said Keckeisen. “Once this happens, he claims to find multiple viruses or “malware” that he can fix for a fee. The scammer then asks for a form of payment, usually a credit card or a wire transfer.”
Victims could end up paying hundreds of dollars in ransom to decrypt their files.
Here’s what you should do to avoid falling victim, according to AARP:
• Avoid clicking on pop-up notices that say you have a problem with your computer.
• If you get a tech support call out of the blue, hang up.
• Never give control of your computer to someone who calls you.
• Don’t give out your credit card number to someone who claims to be from tech support.
• Don’t give a caller your password; legitimate companies will never ask for it
• Report scams like this to ftc.gov/complaint and let others know about it on our scam-tracking map .