Scenarios detailed, with officers asking that information be shared widely
Late in the afternoon of Oct. 4, the Sarasota Police Department issued what it called a “crucial warning” to members of the community “regarding a widespread tech support scam that has recently emerged.” “Scammers are using deceptive email pop-ups on computers to solicit victims into contacting fraudulent tech support services,” a news release explained. Here’s how the scam works:
- “Email Pop-Up — You may receive a suspicious pop-up message on your computer, claiming that your device is infected or facing technical issues. It will urge you to call a listed phone number for immediate assistance.
- “Urgent Tone” — Scammers employ high-pressure tactics, creating a false sense of urgency in panicked victims. “They may threaten that your computer is at risk of permanent damage or data loss if you don’t act immediately.
- “Bank Account Information — “Once they have you on the line, scammers will request remote access to your computer. In some cases, they may ask for sensitive personal information, such as your bank account details or credit card information, under the guise of resolving a technical problem.
- “Gift cards — “If you are asked to purchase gift cards, it’s a scam.
- Depositing Money —“If you are asked to deposit money in a Bitcoin ATM, it’s a scam.”
Officers urge the public to remember the following:
- “Stay Calm — “Do not panic or rush into any decisions. Scammers use urgency to catch you off guard.
- “Verify the Source — Legitimate tech support providers will not contact you through unsolicited pop-ups. Only trust known and reputable companies for tech support.
- “Never Share Personal Information — Never provide personal or financial information to anyone you did not initiate contact with” or whom you do not fully trust.
- “End the Call — If you suspect a scam, hang up immediately. Do not grant remote access to your computer or provide any personal information.
- “Report the Scam” — If you encounter a scam, report it to your local authorities and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the FTC’s website.
The Police Department asks that people share these warnings with friends and family members to prevent them from falling victim to the scams.
“Remember,” the release adds, “scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, so vigilance is key to safeguarding your personal and financial information. Your safety is our priority,” the agency points out.