We would like you to be aware of a sophisticated tech support scam that is becoming prevalent. The Boston Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation says the number of people falling victim to the crime is on the rise, and so are financial losses.
Investigators are seeing an emerging trend in which tech support scammers are convincing victims that their financial accounts have been compromised and their funds need to be moved so the fraudsters can gain control over the victims’ computers and finances. There are many variations of this scam, but they all share some common elements.
The scammers typically pose as representatives from a well-known tech company, such as Microsoft or Apple. They may call, email, or text their targets or appear through pop-up warnings on their computer.
They may claim that their computer is infected with a virus or malware, that their computer has been hacked, or that their personal information has been stolen. The scammers will then offer free technical support service to fix the problem for a fee to get people’s attention.
As the scam progresses, it sometimes includes impersonations of real personnel at investment institutions or federal agencies. For example, in one scheme, the scammers pose as a “security officer” for an investment firm. They may even send personalized paper letters in the mail that purport to be from the Federal Reserve.
Scammers are also asking victims to install software that allows them to monitor their computer. This gives the scammers remote access to the computer to open virtual currency accounts that facilitate the liquidation of genuine bank accounts.
How to protect yourself
It is important to be aware of these scams and to take steps to protect yourself. Here are some tips to help you avoid falling victim to a tech support scam:
- Never give out your personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account information, to someone you do not know.
- Do not click on links in emails or text messages from people you do not know.
- If a pop-up or error message appears with a phone number, don’t call the number. Error and warning messages never include phone numbers.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from a tech company, hang up and call the company directly using a number you know to be legitimate.
- Be cautious of customer support numbers obtained via online searching. Phone numbers listed in a “sponsored” results section are paid ads that can be manipulated. Do not trust caller ID readings as criminals often spoof names and numbers to appear legitimate.
- Call your financial institutions or other companies based on the telephone numbers that are available from your statements, on the back of your credit cards, etc.
- Install a security software program on your computer and keep it up to date.
- Resist the pressure to act quickly. Criminals will urge the victim to act fast to protect their device or account.
If you think you may have been scammed, you should report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.
How we protect clients
Cybersecurity has become an important part of financial security and it’s something we keep in mind when working with clients or on their behalf. Security practices that help us keep client data safe include:
- All sensitive client information is sent to and from clients via encrypted links.
- Electronic signing of forms is done through an application that meets or exceeds the most stringent U.S. and global security standards.
- Our servers are protected by a firewall to prevent outsiders from accessing data on our private network.
We are very careful of any requests to send money to an account that is owned by anyone other than our clients and we double-check such requests carefully with our clients. Depending on the type of request, this might include forms signed by the client, automated notifications of requests so there are no surprises, and information collected verbally by a staff member who would recognize the client’s voice. Knowing our clients well enough to recognize not only their voice but their communication habits helps us protect clients from anyone claiming to be them.
Clients know if they ever come across a request regarding their finances that doesn’t seem quite right, such as this growing tech support scam, they can call us for help working through it.
Katie is a dedicated, experienced client service and operations professional who ensures we continue to go above and beyond to meet clients’ needs. She sets our people, procedures and systems up for success to live our values of Fully Reliable and Go the Extra Mile.