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Like perennial Super Bowl-winning QB Tom Brady and Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, spoofing scammers get more clever with time, creating new, wickedly deceptive wrinkles to old scams aimed at consumers. 

Over the past year, the FCC has seen an increase in the number of consumer complaints about tech support scams. Consumers should take note and be wary of any unsolicited tech support calls. 

In January a KrebsonSecurity blog post, "Apple Phone Phishing Scams Getting Better," highlighted the sophisticated spoofing tactics scammers are using.  In this scam, targeted consumers receive automated calls displaying "Apple's logo, address and real phone number" on their phone screens, with a warning about a data breach at the company. The calls include a fake tech support callback number.

With the recent news of security issues with Apple's Facetime software, the tech support scam might seem all the more credible.

The solution for now – and always – is being hyper-vigilant.  Be suspicious, even when an unexpected call seems innocuous or helpful. When in doubt, check it out.  Always verify all customer support numbers you call, relying on contact information from the company's bills, statements or web pages you know to be accurate.  

As the blogger, Brian Krebs, points out in his post, consumers who try to contact a company using phone numbers from web pages they find through internet search engines are taking a greater risk than they may realize. "In many cases, the scammers are polluting top search engine results with phony 800-numbers for customer support lines that lead directly to fraudsters."

If you've done a search to find a company's customer support number, be sure to click through the search results to the company's actual website and verify its customer support number there. 

The FCC offers helpful tips to avoid spoofing scams and robocalls, along with Consumer Help Center posts about recent scams such as this one.

If you think that you are a victim of fraud related to a robocall or caller ID spoofing, you should first contact law enforcement to report the scam. You can also file a complaint with the FCC at no cost. Read the FCC Complaint Center FAQ to learn more about the FCC's informal complaint process, including how to file a complaint, and what happens after a complaint is filed.  You can also file complaints with the FTC about consumer fraud, including fraud resulting from spoofed phone calls.






Friday, February 22, 2019