CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning consumers of a phone scam circulating in the state in which a caller pretends to represent an Internet service provider and offers technical support to address problems with the consumer’s service.
Morrisey said his office has received multiple inquiries and calls from consumers regarding telephone calls they have received from people purporting to be affiliated with local Internet providers. The caller tells the consumer that they have received reports about unauthorized users on the subscriber's network and asks questions regarding the speed of the subscriber's Internet.
The caller then proceeds to request remote access of the subscriber's computer. In certain scenarios, the scammers request a $400 payment for their services.
Most recently, incoming calls have been reported from area codes used by foreign countries, such as Cambodia (855), as well as from other states, such as Michigan (area code 989), Delaware (area code 302), and Washington (area code 360). Callers also may use numbers that show up as toll-free numbers.
“A growing number of technical support scams are in circulation,” Morrisey said in a press release. “Callers often come across as being very realistic and may know just enough information to make the scam believable.
"They will give consumers a sense of urgency and may even say that if the problem isn’t addressed, the consumer could become the victim of identity theft or fraud. Because of that, consumers can easily fall victim to the scam and agree immediately to the caller’s request.”
Morrisey said rather than act with haste, consumers should hang up and call their Internet provider directly. They can also do a quick search online to see if the call mirrors any known scams.
“Most companies take steps to alert their customers and subscribers of potential scams, and some will post warnings on their website,” he said.
Morrisey said consumers who received a tech support scam call and used a credit card to make the payment can dispute the charge. The credit card provider will open its own investigation and will contact the consumer within two billing cycles with the results of the investigation.
“Please be aware of this type of potential scam and always use extreme caution when giving anyone access to your computer or personal information,” Morrisey said.