Tech-support scammers claim your email has been hacked

Scam definition
Credit: Thinkstock

The Federal Trade Commission is warning of “a new twist” on the old tech-support scam.

From an FTC blog post:

Lately, we’ve heard reports that people are getting calls from someone claiming to be from the Global Privacy Enforcement Network. Their claim? That your email account has been hacked and is sending fraudulent messages. They say they’ll have to take legal action against you, unless you let them fix the problem right away.

If you raise questions, the scammers turn up the pressure – but they’ve also given out phone numbers of actual Federal Trade Commission staff (who have been surprised to get calls). The scammers also have sent people to the actual website for the Global Privacy Enforcement Network. (It’s a real thing: it’s an organization that helps governments work together on cross-border privacy cooperation.)

The scam is so widespread that the Global Privacy Enforcement  Network has its own warning about it at the top of the organization’s homepage.

By now few need to be told the obvious the obvious advice: Hang up.

But there is collateral damage from these scams. Two days ago I received a call from “the pharmacy” about a prescription and the caller wanted to know my birthday before telling me anything else. Immediately suspicious, I asked testily, “What pharmacy?”

The call was legit but the experience drove home the point that I’ve come to distrust anyone who contacts me by telephone.

And just because that’s prudent doesn’t make it a good thing.

Welcome regulars and passersby. Here are a few more recent buzzblog items. And, if you’d like to receive Buzzblog via e-mail newsletter, here’s where to sign up. You can follow me on Twitter here and on Google+ here.

010516blog kardashian small
Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.
Must read: 10 new UI features coming to Windows 10