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US Federal Trade Commission announces crackdown on tech support scams

A bogus security alert | via FTC

Tech support scams have always been quite a nuisance, tricking unsuspecting users into thinking that there is something wrong with their PC, and prompting them to call a number and fork over a large amount of cash to allegedly fix the problem. People behind these hoaxes are also getting smarter-- imitating security alerts complete with countdown timers to give a sense of urgency.

In line with this worrying issue, the Federal Trade Commission of the United States, has announced "Operation Tech Trap," emphasizing 16 actions it is undertaking with the US and international law-enforcement partners to battle all types of tech scams online.

“Tech support scams prey on consumers’ legitimate concerns about malware, viruses and other cyber threats,” states Tom Pahl, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC is proud to work with federal, state and international partners to take down these scams, and help consumers learn how they can safeguard their computers against real cybersecurity threats.”

Many tech support scams take the form of ads disguised as real security messages, usually integrated with the logo of Microsoft, Apple, or another large technology company to make it look legitimate. Once people call the number flashed on the screen, they will be subjected to a bogus diagnosis of their computer, and will be asked to pay a certain amount for fake repair services, as well as software. What's worse, the crooks on the other line might use the captured personal and financial information for their own gain.

The FTC has announced four complaints where this technique was used against consumers. In three of these cases, the commission has already obtained temporary restraining orders to halt the practices, freeze assets, and take control of the business.

At this point, ridding tech support scams for good will undeniably be an uphill battle, as this is a concern not only in the United States, but also worldwide. For now, while the FTC does its work, consumers like us can do our part by being vigilant against possible scams online, that may harm the safety of our PC, and only update through official channels.

Source: FTC via ZDNet

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