Scam Alert: Watch out for this con after purchasing a new tech device

press release from the Better Business Bureau

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ATlanta, GA – A favorite tactic of scammers is to convince consumers to pay for services that would otherwise be free. BBB Scam Tracker (BBB.org/ScamTracker) is getting reports of a con where scam artists charge activation fees for devices that are, in fact, completely free to set up.

How the Scam Works

You purchase a new media player, virtual assistant or other tech devices. It could be a Roku, Google Home, Alexa, or any other device that needs to be activated after purchase. When you are ready to use it, you search for the customer support phone number. However, instead of getting the official website, you end up on a look-alike site with phony customer support information. You call that number, and you are told there is a new policy in place: All device users must now pay an activation fee. Reports on BBB Scam Tracker indicate that people have been charged anywhere from $80 to $100 to “activate” their new device.

Scammers may ask for unusual forms of payment, such as pre-paid gift cards, or they may ask directly for your credit card number. Once payment is made, they may claim there was a problem and a second payment is needed. In some cases, they may “help” you come up with a new username and password, thereby gaining access to your device account. In any case, scammers hope to get away with your hard-earned money along with your personal information.

Tips to avoid a tech support scam
  • Make sure you are visiting an official website. Scammers are skilled at creating look-alike websites with addresses that are spelled slightly different than the official website’s address. Carefully double check the URL or go directly to the site listed in your device’s instruction booklet.
  • Beware of sponsored links. Fake websites sometimes pop up in your web browser’s sponsored ad section and appear at the top of the search list. Be careful what you click on.
  • Never make a payment with prepaid debit or gift cards. Reputable companies will never ask you to wire money or pay with prepaid cards. Money sent this way cannot be recuperated.
For More Information

For more ways to avoid tech support scams, see BBB.org/TechSupport. You can also find tips to help you stay alert to scammers’ tactics at BBB.org/AvoidScams. For a more detailed analysis of this problem, see our full report on tech support scams: BBB.org/ScamStudies.

If you’ve been targeted by a business email scam, report it on the BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your experience can help others to recognize suspicious behavior and stop scammers in their tracks 

About BBB

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit bbb.org for more information.

To stay alert and avoid falling for scams, read BBB.org/ScamTips. Stay one step ahead of scammers by subscribing to BBB’s weekly Scam Alert emails.

If you’ve been the victim of a scam, report it on the BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others protect themselves from similar schemes.

Always visit BBB.org to check the reliability of any company before doing business.  There you can also find a free list of BBB Accredited companies committed to ethical business practices.

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