#cyberfraud | #cybercriminals | BBB on Homes: October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, so it can be a good time to be learn about the newest technology scams, especially those affecting you at home.
A favorite tactic of scammers is to convince consumers to pay for services that would otherwise be free.
The Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas is getting reports of a con where scam artists charge activation fees for devices that are, in fact, completely free to set up.
The scam typically follows a playbook. You purchase a new media player, virtual assistant or other tech device for your home.
It could be a Roku, Google Home, Alexa, or any other device that needs to be activated after purchase. When you are ready to use it, you search for the customer support phone number; however, instead of getting the official website, you end up on a look-alike site with phony customer support information.
You call that number, and you are told there is a new policy in place: All device users must now pay an activation fee. Reports on BBB Scam Tracker indicate that people have been charged anywhere from $80 to $100 to “activate” their new device.
Scammers may ask for unusual forms of payment, such as prepaid gift cards, or they may ask directly for your credit card number.
Once payment is made, they may claim there was a problem and a second payment is needed. In some cases, they may “help” you come up with a new username and password, thereby gaining access to your device account. In any case, scammers hope to get away with your hard-earned money along with your personal information.
The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips on how to protect yourself from tech scams:
Make sure you are visiting an official website. Scammers are skilled at creating look-alike websites with addresses that are spelled slightly different than the official website’s address. Carefully double check the URL or go directly to the site listed in your device’s instruction booklet.
Beware of sponsored links. Fake websites sometimes pop up in your web browser’s sponsored ad section and appear at the top of the search list. Be careful what you click on.
Never make a payment with prepaid debit or gift cards. Reputable companies will never ask you to wire money or pay with prepaid cards. Money sent this way cannot be recuperated.
Protect your home computer and network. A computer should always have the most recent updates installed for spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and also be sure to enable firewall protection for your Wi-Fi network.
For more information and tips, check with the BBB at BBBHouston.org.
The Better Business Bureau is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior.
Visit www.bbbhouston.org or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello
is senior director of Investigative Services with the BBB of Greater Houston and South Texas. Send questions to Leah Napoliello, Better Business Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77027, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your mailing address and phone number.
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