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3 On Your Side: Tech Support Scam

jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Ever try to reach a real person when calling tech support? It’s often easier said than done and scammers are now taking advantage of that!

Their Facebook page is colorful, inspirational, and popular, too, with more than 170,000 followers. But when the wholesome posts on the Sisters In Christ Facebook fan page was hacked with adult content, Teresa Citro says, “we just panicked!”

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 dollars, 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,” said Citro.

Turns out she wasn’t talking to Facebook. In fact Facebook doesn’t even offer phone tech support.

And the feds say they’ve received thousands of complaints about similar tech support scams.

“The goal is to get consumers to pay hundreds of dollars for unnecessary computer repair services,” said Federal Trade Commission attorney, Colleen Robbins.

The FTC recently launched a major tech support scam crack down, filing complaints against several companies based mostly in India.

“It was very interesting how persuasive the defendants were in trying to trick consumers,” said Robbins.

The FTC says scammers either cold-call, claiming to be major companies like Microsoft, Norton, McAfee and Dell, 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.

The support line Citro called didn’t help her at all and now she hopes to inspire others not to fall for this tech support scheme.

“I never expected that I wasn’t speaking to Facebook because they answered the phone call with ‘this is Facebook technical support,'” said Citro.

When searching for a tech support number, go to a company’s website directly and look for contact information there. Never give control of your computer to a third party that you are unsure about. And if someone calls you claiming you have a computer problem, hang up.

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