Take caution of online IT Support Services

You know those pesky pop-ups advertising tech support for your computer? Be careful. The FBI highlights tech-support fraud as a growing trend in the agency’s latest report on cybercrime.

The most common type of online crime stems from internet transactions — the failure to either deliver goods or services ordered or to pay for them, according to the FBI’s 2017 Internet Crime Report released this week.

Tech-support fraud is a widespread scam, with criminals constantly changing their tactics to continue the fraud, the FBI report said. The perpetrators may use anything from pop-up ads, phone calls and search-engine advertising to lure victims, and may pose as security, customer service or technical support personnel offering help with issues ranging from software-license renewal to computer viruses.

“Some recent complaints involve criminals posing as technical support representatives for income tax assistance, GPS, printer, or cable companies, or support for virtual currency exchanges,” the FBI report said.

The FBI received nearly 11,000 complaints related to tech-support fraud in 2019 with claimed losses of nearly $15 million, a 90 percent increase in losses over 2016.

For cybercrime overall, the states of California, Florida and Texas had the highest numbers of victims and losses in 2017, and older Americans were the most common victims, with those over 60 losing $342 million to cybercrimes last year, the FBI report said.

The United States is not alone with this problem. Canada, India and the United Kingdom also reported significant levels of cybercrime.

Overall, internet crime in the U.S. alone caused losses of $1.4 billion dollars, but one security expert said such crimes are likely under reported.



The FBI also highlights a practice called business email compromise, which led to the highest amount of losses, over $600 million, in 2017.In these cases, scammers target businesses, often through customer support.The FBI reported that it receives over 800 complaints a day for cyber-related incidents and more than 250,000 complaints each year, a number that is growing every year.