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The FTC says it’s cracking down on scammy pop-ups offering ‘tech support’

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The Federal Trade Commission says it’s cracking down on pop-up scams selling tech support “fixes” to fake computer problems.

The FTC says it has taken 16 new “actions,” from settlements to guilty pleas, as part of Operation Tech Trap, a plan to stop similar scams. In all, the agency says it’s now taken 29 law enforcement actions against the perpetrators.

According to the agency, the scams are generally similar. An unsuspecting web user sees a pop-up claiming their system is in trouble: compromised by a virus, maybe, or infected with ransomware. The pop-up directs them to call a toll-free number.

When the person makes the call, someone on the other end says they need remote access to their computer. That person claims to run a “diagnostic test,” and then pressures the user into spending hundreds of dollars to fix the issue.

With real malware spreading, and a major ransomware attack in the news, it’s easy to see how someone could be fooled. The FTC says it has filed four new complaints alleging similar scams, and has received restraining orders stopping the alleged practice in three.