Two different scams have become very prevalent in the last two weeks, with scammers escalating their tactics, and both of the scams seemingly involve Apple or AppleCare Tech Support. Both are bogus and both use social engineering to trick and scare you into doing some thing they want you to do.
The so-called AppleCare Tech Support phone scam
Just this week I got a call from a client who fell prey to this exact scam, to the tune of several hundred dollars. These calls are heavily targeted towards seniors and are very cleverly designed to sound real and to trick you.
If you receive a call that appears as AppleCare on your caller ID, hang up & block the call.
Here’s how it works:
- You get a call, either on a landline or cell phone, from 800-275-2273, which is a valid Apple Tech Support number. But it’s being used to disguise where the call is really initiated. The caller will say, “This Is Apple & your iCloud account has been compromised. Do not attempt to login to your account.”
- There is no such hacking or compromise of iCloud accounts.
- Apple will never contact you personally. They do not call account holders this way.
- The calls are coming from Pakistan.
- The scammers are using a phone list that they purchased from your carrier. If you haven’t already done so, go to your carrier’s website & opt out of allowing them to sell your phone number.
In Colorado, you can go to the Colorado State Attorney’s website and file a complaint.
The so-called Apple “Your computer has been hacked” online scam
Tech support scammers don’t use only cold calls. You might also get a pop-up window that warns of a problem and tells you to call a number. Countless people have been persuaded to turn over credit card information to pay for unnecessary “repairs”.
This will show up on your computer as a full-screen announcement, saying that your computer has been hacked and to call Apple immediately. This screen is often accompanied with audio of a voice telling you to call, or with loud, menacing sounds. There is almost always an urgent timing involved to get you to act quickly. Some of these scams even put a count-down timer up on the screen, informing you that you only have 2 minutes in which to act.
If you call the number on the screen, they will answer, “Hello, this is Apple computer,” often with an Indian or Pakistani accent. It’s all a ruse and a scam.
You can read about this tactic in the article on Phishing elsewhere on this site.
The Washington Post has an article describing what these originating call centers are like.
Consumer Reports has an excellent article on Who Gets Scammed: Why Some People are More Vulnerable.
The FTC also has a Scam Alerts page where you can sign up for emails about current scams.
So what’s a person to do if this happens to them?
First, repeat the following mantra: “Contact Bruce first… Contact Bruce first…” I will be very happy to get to the bottom of whatever appears to be happening with your devices. If either of these scams ever happens to you, go to Contact us and we will get you set right again!
(Update, June 2018:)
Some important links if you want to file complaints with Federal agencies: