Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Scammers are constantly finding new ways of using technology to take advantage of consumers. Find examples of common scams below, or click here to learn more about staying safe online.


Tech support scam

In this scam, fraudsters call consumers and say they work for Microsoft, Dell, or some other well-known tech company. The caller claims there are problems with consumer’s computer, such as viruses, infected files, or a security breach.

The calls are most likely coming from outside the U.S., but the caller ID is spoofed to look like a domestic call, perhaps even using the name of the company the fraudsters are claiming to work for.

In some variations of the scam, the fake tech support agent will ask for the computer’s serial number. Other times, the fake agent may ask the consumer to type some commands or open certain files that will “prove” the computer is infected.

Routinely, the fake agent will ask the consumer to visit a specific website that allows the fake agent to remotely access the consumer’s computer. By remotely accessing the consumer’s computer, the fake agent has full access to the consumer’s computer and can move the mouse, open any files, and type messages on the computer screen.

Sometimes the fake agent wants to sell consumers services to “fix the computer.” Other times they want access to the consumer’s computer in order to infect it with malware or cause other damage. No matter the variation, the call is a scam.

Legitimate technology companies, such as Microsoft, will never call consumers to offer tech support. If you receive an unsolicited offer of tech support, hang up. Do not give the caller any personal or financial information, or access to your computer.