Apple Support Scam
Out of the blue, you get a phone call. The speaker tells you he’s calling from “Apple Support”, and it’s critical that you give him access to your computer so he can fix a serious problem that could wipe out all your information. He’ll send you a link to click to let him access your computer and help you out; but first, you’ll need to buy a gift card and read him the card number and pin in order to pay for the service.
In this case, if you click on the link, the fraudulent caller can install malware on your computer to steal your personal information. Additionally, giving the fraudster gift card information is basically like giving them cash; it’s difficult to recover money you spent on gift cards.
Be Wary of Unsolicited, Urgent Calls
Scammers will try to impersonate any large, recognizable institution, including Apple, Microsoft, or the IRS, because odds are the people they call will have dealings with one or more of those entities. Remember, none of these companies initiate contact by phone; be especially skeptical if they tell you there’s an urgent problem, such as a dying computer or a tax penalty.
Never Use Gift Cards to Pay for a Service
Gift cards are just that – a gift. Anyone who asks for a gift card as a means of payment is likely a scammer.
Once a scammer gets the gift card information, they can access the funds in several ways, including:
- Direct purchase of goods or services
- Selling the card’s value on the dark web
And since a gift card is like cash, it’s hard to dispute such a purchase, as most merchants won’t consider the purchase of the gift card itself to be fraudulent.
What Can You Do?
If you realize that you’ve been scammed after giving the caller your gift card information, notify the company that issued the card right away (Apple, Amazon, Google, etc.). If you call them in time, they might be able to freeze the gift card, and you may be able to get a refund – but this is not a guarantee. Be sure to retain the physical card and any receipts. The FTC’s article on this scam includes a list of some of the most common companies involved with advice and contact information.
Additional steps include:
- Tell the Federal Trade Commission about any type of scam or fraud you detect at ftc.gov/complaint, or call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP.
- Report it to your state Attorney General (for a list of state offices, visit naag.org).