Lisa Madigan warns of wave of tech support scams hitting Illinois

Marc FilippinoReboot Illinois

Feb 02, 2017

Illinoisans should hang up the phone immediately if they’re getting unsolicited tech support advice from an unknown caller, according to Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

Madigan put out a press release Thursday saying her office is seeing an increased number of complaints from Illinois residents about tech support scams. Con artists try to convince victims they are having computer problems and direct the victim to a toll-free number for assistance. If the number is called, it gives the swindler remote access to a victim’s computer and Madigan said they can then access personal information or install viruses.

Listen to a real scam call below. (Courtesy/ Lisa Madigan’s office)

The Elgin Police Department warned about similar problems a few weeks ago, saying these scammers often pose as employees from reputable companies.

In early January, Steve Bernas, CEO and president of the Chicago and Northern Illinois Better Business Bureau, told ABC 7 people often record scam attempts using the BBB’s Scam Tracker. According to the tracker,  the top three con attempts in 2016 were tax scams, debt collection scams, and sweepstakes/prizes/gift scams. Tech support scams were ranked 7, dropping from the fourth spot in 2015.

ABC 7 notes that not all the consumers who reported a scam lost money. Some recognized the scam and still reported it to help warn others.

Tech support scams have gotten exponentially worse over the years. In 2017, Madigan’s office has already seen 23 tech support scam attempts, a pace that would surpass 2016’s total. According to Madigan’s office, there were 241 recorded tech support scams complaints last year and 102 complaints in 2015.

“If you receive a call claiming your computer has a problem, hang up immediately,” Madigan said. “I encourage people to contact my office if they want to determine whether a call or message they received is a scam.”

Madigan’s encourages residents to visit her website to report scams or to call her Consumer Fraud Hotlines in Chicago (1-800-386-5438), Springfield (1-800-243-0618), or Carbondale (1-800-243-0607).

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