Washington, D.C. — The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), with the support of the NAAG Consumer Protection Committee, has partnered with several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to crackdown on tech support scams. The sweep was announced during a press conference today at DOJ.
Tech support scams involve fake pop-up messages, phone calls, or websites that claim a consumer’s computer is infected. Fraudsters will ask for personal information or for access to a victim’s computer to fix the problem. The elderly are often targeted in these scams.
“Last year, over 6 in 10 consumers experienced tech support scams. Education, prevention, and enforcement are instrumental in addressing these tech scams. Partnerships among state and federal agencies are key. I applaud the combined efforts of our state attorneys general, the Justice Department, and the Federal Trade Commission to tackle these tech support scams nationwide,” said NAAG President and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
“The tech support scammer preys on every digital consumer’s worst nightmare – that, in an instant, our documents, pictures, or other important files will be compromised or lost. As we rely increasingly on our home computers and mobile devices to communicate, work, and even travel, we must remain vigilant. I applaud the efforts of my colleagues in law enforcement to identify these scammers, hold them accountable, and educate consumers about these harmful scams,” said Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, who serves as a co-chair of the Consumer Protection Committee.
Guidelines have been developed on how to spot and avoid falling victim to tech support scams. Blue error screens that are displayed within an internet browser may indicate a scam. Victims may be asked to call a toll-free number immediately or receive threats of losing personal data. Consumers should not click on unwarranted pop-ups, allow remote access, or send money to strangers. Other signs of a scam include being asked to share passwords or being instructed to pay with gift cards. To help protect your computer, security software should always be kept up-to-date. Only contact a trusted computer technician if you experience difficulties. Never share personal information.
The sweep is part of several initiatives taken by the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute (NAGTRI) Center for Consumer Protection (CCP) during National Consumer Protection Week. The CCP aims to assist and enable state and territory attorneys general in protecting the public in the areas of consumer protection and charitable asset and entity oversight. NAGTRI is the training and research arm of NAAG.
Abigail Stempson, the Director of the CCP, said, “This sweep will hopefully help make consumers aware of a rampant scam that can make them lose valuable time and money. We commend the many attorneys general and our law enforcement partners who have filed lawsuits, taken other legal actions, and educated consumers in regard to these scams.”
If scammed, consumers are encouraged to remove malware they may have downloaded and change shared passwords. Consumers are further encouraged to file a complaint with their attorney general’s office and the FTC. Visit the www.consumerresources.org for additional resources.
NAAG would like to thank DOJ, FTC, and the NAAG Tech Scam Working Group who were instrumental in this sweep.
Attorneys general offices participating in the sweep were from Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington D.C.
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