That Guy On The Phone Offering A Tech Support Refund Is Probably A Scammer

We’ve written before about scam artists taking advantage of consumers’ unease with technology to trick them into handing over sensitive personal info, and now there are scammers hoping to prey upon consumers’ general dissatisfaction with customer service and tech support (and their general love of refunds).

Earlier today, the Federal Trade Commission issued a general warning to the public about these tech support refund scams.

The scam operates in different ways, but there are two general methods.

The first involves the scammer cold-calling consumers, pretending to represent a company that is going out of business and offering refunds for tech support services that can no longer be offered. Of course, none of this is true and there is no refund coming. They just want your bank account information so they can steal your money, or your personal info so they can pretend to be you (and steal other people’s money and services in your name).

In the second version of the scam, the con artist calls up consumers — including some who have been taken by previous tech support scams — under the pretense of checking on whether or not these people have been satisfied with the quality of support they have received. The inevitably unsatisfied customer can then request a refund (that never comes) or is tricked into paying for even more bogus services. Once again, the goal is to get your banking and personal information for criminal gain.

“They might say that you need to create a Western Union account to receive the money,” writes the FTC in a blog post on the scam. “They may even offer to help you fill out the necessary forms — if you give them remote access to your computer. But instead of transferring money to your account, the scammer withdraws money from your account.”

A bit of advice that is always worth repeating (because people learn it the hard way every day) — Never provide any personal or banking info to anyone who contacts you. If they need this information, get a call-back number, do some research to see if it’s a number associated with a company you do business with, and then call them back.

Better yet, just hang up and file a complaint with the FTC.

If you get taken in a scam like this and you’ve paid with credit card, immediately contact your card company and request a chargeback.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.