Recently, an IT savvy colleague of mine e-mailed me to say that he had been contacted by a tech support company that seemed to have a lot of general personal information about him and wanted to notify him to help him with an “issue” his computer was having. They had an 800 number and a local 212 number – they were called Help Tec 24/7. He was skeptical, and rightfully had his doubts about what they wanted to truly “help” him with.

Tech support scams are not new but they seem to be mutating like viruses. From scams where a caller claims that your computer has a serious problem and asks for remote access then charges you a fee for “fixing” a problem that was never even there to scams that try to engage you in a tech service feedback loop while offering you a refund.

Oftentimes, scammers will use bogus addresses that sound legit – they might say they are calling from Microsoft support or they may tie in the name of your printer manufacturer to make you believe they are part of your tech circle. Unfortunately, any way you slice it, if you get an unsolicited tech call, or if you respond to an e-mail about your tech service, be cautious and DON’T give them your credit card information for their bogus tech support.

Under a true support plan or managed service agreement, your tech provider will know precisely what equipment and programs you are running AND they will know your IP Address. Don’t fall for partial information, and if you don’t know your own IP address, don’t assume the number they just rattled off is yours. It’s not.

So here is what you can you do if you fell for it and paid for bogus tech support services.

First, file a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint.

If you paid with a credit card, call your credit card company and ask them to reverse the charges.

Hang up on callers who offer a refund in exchange for your bank or credit card account number or a Western Union account, etc...

Today, most people are wary of incoming calls, but hackers are ingenious and often use public knowledge they find about you in their very plausible scam sales tactics. Always be skeptical until you can be sure, that that tech call is a welcome one, and one you are expecting.

TIP: If you want to know your own IP Address – go to www.whatismyipaddress.com and find out!