Tech Support ScamScammers are relentless and will stop at nothing to trick victims out of their hard-earned money, and the unfortunate reality is they often get away with it. That’s why those rare instances when scammers are required to face a judge can be cathartic, especially for scam victims. As part of its initiative to take down tech support scams, the FTC has secured $10 million in settlement money to return to consumers. Continue reading as we talk about this settlement, how it affects consumers and place the settlement in the broader context of actions that the FTC is taking against tech support scams.

What are tech support scams?

We’ve discussed tech support scams in-depth before, but as a brief refresher, they refer to an entire category of scams where computer or mobile device owners are fooled into accepting remote “support” for their device. These scams can result in consumers being tricked out of money, having malware installed on their system, having their identity stolen or some combination of each. These scams have been carried out for years and have cost consumers tens of millions of dollars. Just in the past two years alone, the FTC has estimated that more than $24.6 million has been lost to tech support scams.

What is the FTC doing to address these scams?

Earlier this year, the FTC announced a plan, dubbed “Operation Tech Trap,” to specifically address these types of scams. Partnering with several states, governmental agencies and even the government of India, the FTC has pushed to punish so-called tech scam outlets through 16 civil and criminal actions. In fact, even before the formal announcement of Operation Tech Trap, the organization took quite a few of these scammers to court successfully. And as a result of one of its more recent successes, the FTC has announced that partial refunds have been made available to victims of a specific tech support scheme ran between 2012 and 2014 by Advanced Tech Support, which also used the name Inbound Call Experts.

How can I qualify for the Advanced Tech Support refund?

Individuals who are eligible for the partial refund offered through this settlement were notified via email in August. The emails should have come through the address subscribe@subscribe.ftc.gov and contained a claim number and a PIN. The claim number and PIN should be entered online on the FTC’s refund support page. Alternatively, you can also contact a refund administrator to initiate the process – the number is 877-793-0908, as noted on the support page. If you believe yourself to have been a victim of this scam but haven’t received an email, check your spam folder or contact the FTC if you need assistance.

It should be noted that there are no other legitimate means by which consumers will be contacted by the FTC. That means phone calls, text messages and even emails asking for personal information or payment are likely scams. Remember that emails regarding the refund will come from subscribe@subscribe.ftc.gov, should contain PIN and claim numbers and should not ask for any personal information.

For more information about scams, as well as news about ongoing efforts to compensate consumers, keep reading our scams blog.