WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With U.S. consumers falling victim to the "technical support scam" in greater numbers than ever before, the AARP Fraud Watch Network today launched an initiative to raise awareness of the scam and educate consumers about how they can protect themselves.
A survey released last month by Microsoft found that over the past year two-thirds of consumers have experienced the tech support scam, in which fraudsters pose as technicians from one of the major computer companies. AARP's effort to educate consumers includes online content, advertising and media appearances featuring renowned security expert and Fraud Watch Network Ambassador Frank Abagnale. "If you or someone you know receives a call or an email from someone identifying themselves as a technician with Microsoft, Google, Apple or some other well-known technology company, it is likely to be a scam. Just hang up the phone," said Abagnale. "The large computer firms never make proactive calls or send email to provide unrequested technical support." Executing the scam via telephone, email or even pop-up ads, the scammers inform a targeted person that a virus or some other security problem has been detected on the victim's computer, and offer to make a repair. Instead, their goal is to gain control of the computer, access personal files and passwords, and obtain credit card information to charge the consumer for the supposed repair or a warranty program -- which proves to be worthless. The Microsoft survey indicates that 20% of the people surveyed around the world continued with a potentially fraudulent interaction after the first contact. This means that the victim downloaded harmful software, gave the scammers access to their computer, visited a scam website, or provided a credit card or other forms of payment.