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If you need tech help with your computer, where do you go? Most of us probably search online. But your online search can lead you straight to scammers who scare you into thinking your computer is in dire need of repair...and then sell you costly security software that you don't need.

That’s just what happened in the FTC’s lawsuit against Elite IT Partners, Inc., announced today as part of a massive law enforcement sweep. According to the complaint, Elite bought key words on Google that let them target people searching for how to recover lost passwords. You’d fill out an online form and give your contact information. Then, says the FTC, Elite’s telemarketers would call and ask to get online access to your computer – supposedly to check for problems. Once they were in, the caller would show you fake “evidence” of viruses or other threats that, they said, had to be removed right away.

Then came the sales pitches. Elite allegedly got people – many of them older adults – to pay hundreds of dollars for unnecessary repairs and maintenance programs. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are some steps you can take:

  • If you’re looking for tech support, go to a company you know and trust, or get help from a knowledgeable friend or family member. If you search online for help, search on the company name plus “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.”
  • If you get a phone call you didn’t expect from someone who says there’s a problem with your computer, hang up.
  • Never call a number in a pop-up that warns you of computer problems. Real security warnings will never ask you to call a phone number.
  • If you think there’s a problem with your computer, update its security software and run a scan.

If you spot a tech support scam, tell the FTC: And learn more at



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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

March 07, 2019
I need serious help getting my computer and iPhone cleared of scammers and hackers who have access to my social security number. Where do I go for this? I’ve been to Apple and Simply Mac, who wipes my computer with no success. Please help.
FTC Staff
March 11, 2019

In reply to by imccormick

If  your phone and computer have computer viruses or other problems, you could get help from a retail store or the manufacturer. You could update the security software you have on the devices. You could delete problems the security software finds on your devices.

If you continue to have problems with people mis-using your Social Security number, you can report identity theft at You can report identity theft online, or call 1-877-438-4338.

hairy harvey
March 18, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

I filed a complaint on Jan 28th against an IT scammer and still have heard nothing. Where do I go to get an answer?
FTC Staff
March 18, 2019

In reply to by hairy harvey

If you reported a problem to the FTC at, and you gave your email address, you should get an email reply that says we received your complaint. The reply might include a link to some FTC consumer education material to help you avoid problems in the future. The FTC does not handle individual cases.

The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. If the FTC or other law enforcement agencies use your information for an investigation or law enforcement matter, they can't tell you about an active investigation or law enforcement matter.

June 03, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

I did all that gave the address in another state of the identity thieves police reports they asked if I would prosecute I said yes no one did anything everything is still on freeze for my credit after 4 yrs.they arrested these guys in the other state Texas they had a copy of my social security card and drivers license well I was searching for auto insurance bought a new car found out in Texas and Rockford illinois thse guys put in false claims with Progressive and Liberty Mutual insurance did not pay for policy claimed accidents in the fall of 2017 I now am paying a higher insurance rate and Geico who I am now with said the would give me a refund if cleared up within 60 days since I was a new customer they r not doing that after many hours on phone how could they even get s policy without paying for the detective has not called me back I was calling to tell him about this scam I want them in jail for years he said they probably got info from a hospital or doctors office I am 69 yrs old this is not fun I have had state farm insurance since I was 23 yrs. Old till it was too high then I found out
FTC Staff
June 05, 2019

In reply to by jannyojanet

You can report identity theft at When you report details of the theft, you get a personal recovery plan and an Identity Theft Report. The Report helps you prove that someone stole your identity, and makes it easier to correct problems caused by identity theft.

If there is fraudulent information on your credit report because of the identity theft, you can show credit reporting agencies you Identity Theft Report and get them to remove the fraudulent information. You have additional rights when you recover from identity theft.

Go to to create an Identity Theft Report. Read more about your rights on this page.

Wynne Web
March 18, 2019

In reply to by imccormick

If your computer has been wiped clean - and assuming you didn't continue to patronize the sites that messed you up in the first place, then the problem is not your computer - the problem is that your SSN is now vulnerable. Do as the other person suggested and report your identity theft issue - not your computer.
March 07, 2019
Thanks again, pop up windows are a true target, Ex: "Call number, and leave your computer on" is a for sure sign. Once I turned off my computer called the "The Tech Support" number, ask what is your company name? "Tech Support" me " I don't have a contract with any "Tech Support" company, think maybe your are a scammer. Them "hung Up"
Ninh Njuyen
March 07, 2019
Hi I want to sign up member
March 07, 2019
Good for you people! There are many other scams that need to be investigated and shut down. Seems like scammers with India accents are very active.
CarolDon't use…
March 07, 2019
I was bilked out of a lot of money from a company named Yogi. I thought they were legitimate but after months of dealing with them, I realized that they were cheating me out of my money and doing things to my computer so that I would have to call them back to correct the problem.
March 07, 2019
This video is very informative and I had an incident also ...
March 07, 2019
I made a scam complaint a couple of weeks to a month ago and I haven't heard anything back yet.. Just curious whats going on. I had another call and I told him about my "scammer" and he hung up on me. Fairly suspicious... Thank you! Linda Cox
Pickford Carver
March 07, 2019
A safety strategy I have used is to log on to my computer with a non-administrator account. This prevents a hacker from installing software without your entering the administrator's password. When I have got those "Your computer is infected" messages, I do a CTRL-ALT-DEL and click "shut down". It has always worked so far.
March 11, 2019
I had a neighbor who fell for a scam that his computer was infected. Once I got a call that someone said they were from Microsoft and I had a virus. I told the woman I don't own a computer. That made her stammer. Of course I did but I wasn't going to let her know that. She hung up. I once did call Microsoft about a problem and they wanted $200 to fix it and take control of my computer. I said no. I searched online and found how to fix the problem myself without any help.
March 07, 2019
I respond only to ones I know and do no card or bank activity online. When I find a few or large number of STRANGE items, I send them to Google and/or Comcast to tell them to remove these and find out where they belong. It's been successful, so far.
March 07, 2019
I have had an outfit call several times saying they were from Apple. Of course they aren't. I did let them on sight once but I did not pay. Now I know it is a scam but they frequently call back.
Just confused
March 07, 2019
I'm always careful online, but somewhat confused about security programs. A letter from a support site said "delete your anti-virus program & broken shortcuts, uninstall programs not used, just keep Windows defender & a firewall". Doesn't sound like enough protection, though. ??
March 07, 2019
Thk you, FTC for these alerts. Im getting robocalls about my MicroSoft license being expired and not supporting my old desk computer and to call an 800 number now to get some kind of upgrade or key reset. This is a scam, right?
March 07, 2019
I had major problems with Dell computer. They never gave me back my insurance on the Dell computer that I had until 2020. I dropped them last year because every so often there was a virus detected. Until my computer just went arwy and they gave me a phone number to call for a tech to come here. But when I looked up on the phone number they gave me----it said high potential for a scam. They wanted to come to my house and make me think they were fixing my computer when they'd be installing malicious software. Dell. Should be watched. Just because they are such a big name---i got ripped off of about $192.00. Don't let them take control of your screen!
March 07, 2019
I've since deleted my Facebook account, but once when I got a notice that my Facebook password had been breached, I went online to call tech support for Facebook. Even though the internet said I was clicking onto a Facebook help site, it wasn't true. I ended up being scammed, but figured it out in time for my credit card company to delete the charges that were added to my account. I tried to contact Facebook warning them that someone was using their name to scam people. They are impossible to contact. I noticed months later that the same website was still there. Shame on Facebook. I'm glad I'm no longer active with them.
March 07, 2019
Thank you for allerting us.
March 08, 2019
Personally I use the local computer shop for any needed repairs and get a great discount. As for passwords, keeping a 'password book', which is simply a small bound book found in any discount place, can be used to write down passwords and important info about any accounts. After all this time and repeated warnings there are folks still getting scammed and robbed by online and telephone thieves.
March 08, 2019
A great deal of calls saying my Social security number is being used I just hang up and report the number If It was real I would have a message or something in the mail
March 09, 2019
can I trust you too?
March 09, 2019
Change your passwords often. Get good protection on your PC.
March 10, 2019
Don't buy Avast software, I had it, wanted $300.00 to uninstall in. Still get invoices from them . not paying a dime.
March 11, 2019
These people called me one time and told me they were from "Windows." I said, you mean Microsoft? so stupid. Please alert your elderly family, relatives and friends and neighbors because these people think we are really stupid. I once told a woman that straight to her face as she was trying to scam me, either with SSA or IRS. I said, you people must think us Americans are pretty stupid. She said yes we do. I told her to get a regular job like the rest of us and quit trying to scam.
March 13, 2019
Been scammed twice. Protecaid and InfoTech were the so-called company names. At first I thought they were the same company. They bilked me out of $1500 total. Bad on me for falling for their scam. Was still getting calls up till last month. I asked them to prove they were legit but the couldn’t. Not too worried about the cash I lost but do worry about those type getting into my finances and personal stuff. Still get occasional fake notifications of breaches on the computer but just shut it down. I am now more vigilant to such scams. Too bad we have to put up with such IT invasions of our privacy.
March 15, 2019

In reply to by RogerD

I, too, was scammed out of $300. It's embarrassing but empowering to let others know, make them aware. Now I know better.
March 15, 2019
Used a company called Geek Advisors/San Diego, Calif./Harry Smith or Carl Williams callers/threatedto sent me a little "gift" card in the mail if I didn't pay them $300. Had already got into my Bank account and tried to empty it out, bank froze my account becase I had a loan...Do not answer 1-855-916-6111...
April 12, 2019

In reply to by Janabear

A similar thing happened to me. The supposed computer tech company wired more than a supposed "refund" into my account and then I fell for getting them their overage back through gift cards. My bank froze the account thankfully. Rule of thumb - If it sounds too good to be true it is a scam. I am out time, aggravation, and perhaps having to open a new account.
March 27, 2019
I have been having trouble with a company who say I owe them $100.00 for removing scam and virues from my lap top in 2018. I wasn't told about a fee and they said they were from Mirco Soft. I know Mircosoft doesn't charge or contact people on their lap tops or through their emails or over the phone. This company call themselves PC Cooperation from FA. They have called every day since 2018. I did get break 2 months ago butm they have started calling again. I have contacted Do not call, the state board(who help with annoying calls) and many other places. I am at a lost on to stop them.
March 27, 2019
The troubles that I have had seem to have all originated from Facebook. One of my troubles was a company called Linkln had signed me up and charged my credit card around 45 dollars. This group is strictly for networking for professional jobs. I am completely retired and have no intentions of returning to work. They knew where I went to college and my very unusual job title. FB is the only place this information is listed. I would never have even visited this site. Not sure how they managed to do this but fortunately my credit card company worked with me and removed the charges. I now stay away from Facebook.
Brenda G
March 28, 2019
Last Night I received 2 calls from 832-325-3500. The first one came in at 5:53PM and the second at 8:10 PM. They were nice enough to leave the following message: Apple device please contact Apple support advisor. Press 1 to connect with Apple support advisor. Press 2 to listen to this message again or if you wish to contact us later please call us on our toll free number 518-312-4937 Thank you.. Don't fall for it it's definitely a scam. I posted it here only because I feel it falls into the same situation. Why can't people just find an honest way to make a dollar????
June 05, 2019
If someone calls you and says "Your computer warranty is up and if you don't want your credit card to be charged $199.00; push 1". you'll then get a person on the phone that will "HELP" you - OR RIP YOU OFF - They then try to get access to your computer - GIVE THEM NO INFORMATION - it's a scam! The number that contacted me was 714-260-0157 - they told me to but .msshelp. com into my computer. Of course I didn't - but please beware - I HATE DISHONEST PEOPLE! You make me sick!
Scammers suck
April 12, 2019
I was scanned by a guy that said he was with Microsoft unfortunately I bought $9,500 worth of Google play cards and read the numbers to him! I'm still feeling stupid and angry! Be careful folks.. scammers are so smooth have got an answer for every question you ask them.
April 19, 2019
I got hacked recently, lost about $1200 in Gift Card purchases, $700 in Google play cards and $500 in Walmart gift card . Hacker called claiming to be with "Comcast Tech Support" saying my computer was infected with viruses. They got control of my computer, changed my password, got my bank accounts and credit card account. and SSS number. When I tried to log in, I could not because it needed the new password. They came on and mentioned that they can give me the new password if I can get $2000 worth of Gift cards from Best Buy. I replied no way, they got nasty and threatened to send my computer pictures of my family to the porn sites. I replied that I don't care at all-just make sure that my wife gets the star status. I then took the computer down, disconnected everything and brought it down to Office Depot for cleansing.
May 03, 2019
I get calls everyday even before 8am from caller I.D. numbers that start with a V and are maybe 10 numbers long. If I pick up, no one replies. I get other calls to which there are no replies also. What are they getting from not answering? Maybe I hang up too soon?
Born honest
June 05, 2019
I get a call from "Dell". Employee # 1097 They say my email is being used by scammers and they need to check it. I believed them and let them into my PC. they wanted to sell me protection for $498. I became suspicious and then they locked me out of my PC. The threat was releasing my info on the dark web. I did not yield to them. I have taken the necessary recommended steps to recovery. the low lifes daniel 800 624 9896 and sam marsh 530 744 2305 worked together ...claiming to be from dell. these people are without a soul...ruthless...and probably making a ton of money
June 08, 2019
I was scam lost connection with my computer. But had a kind friend who helped get it restored. This person first charged me $149.00 telling me something was wrong with my computer. then came back a few months later and wanted to charge me $99.00 dollars. they told me they were Tech Help Expert. phone 1. 855.937.4657. the second time the phone number was 1.855.888.9893. I called both numbers and they denied it was them.
Smarty Pants
August 05, 2019
After listening how bad my computer was infected with viruses, I told the guy that there were no connections available on the computer for him to connect to, he asked me what kind of computer it was. I told him it was an Abacus, he hung up on me.
September 17, 2021
I keep getting calls on my cell & land line regarding charging me $199 to $399 for WORK DONE ON MY COMPTUER! ( which I never had done or requested) I got into a verbal fight with one of them over the phone who told me he would get into my BOA account and help his self! Who are these guys? He had an accent & I'm getting really ticked off with getting these calls & have to keep myself & BOA the 'watchout' list!