Answer Line: Report tech support fraud to Federal Trade Commission | Answer Line


QUESTION: She did not delete the e-mail at this time. The person asked if she had a credit card and she said, “yes,” but she did not give out the number. Eventually, her computer screen went blank. She did get it back up and running. It had two phone numbers to call, that were saying they were places to report Microsoft problems. The phone numbers were not legit, but she did write them down. To whom can she report this problem? What would have been the best thing for her to do when facing this type of situation?

ANSWER: She should report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov, with the best advice being to have deleted the e-mail without any interaction with the sender.

The commission’s website has a section dedicated to “How to Spot, Avoid and Report Tech Support Scams.” In 2018, the commission received 143,000 reports about tech support scams, with people losing about $55 million to them, the Federal Trade Commission reported.

“Tech support scammers want you to believe you have a serious problem with your computer, like a virus. They want you to pay for tech support services you don’t need, to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. They often ask you to pay by wiring money, putting money on a gift card, prepaid card or cash reload card, or using a money transfer app because they know those types of payments can be hard to reverse….” the FTC website says.

“Tech support scammers may try to lure you with a pop-up window that appears on your computer screen. It might look like an error message from your operating system or antivirus software, and it might use logos from trusted companies or websites. The message in the window warns of a security issue on your computer and tells you to call a phone number to get help. If you get this kind of pop-up window on your computer, don’t call the number. Real security warnings and messages will never ask you to call a phone number.”

These kinds of scams might also involve websites that show up in an online search or in online ads.

“If you’re looking for tech support, go to a company you know and trust,” the FTC says, and says that legitimate companies won’t try to reach by phone, email or text message and that real companies don’t use security pop-up warnings to tell you to call a phone number.

Q: Where can we recycle prescription pill bottles? As a senior citizen I have collected 100’s of them and hate to discard them when the could be cleaned and used again. Can’t put them in the regular recycle stuff because of labels with lots of glue. Hope you can find an answer.

A: Pill bottles actually aren’t accepted in our recycling in Longview, or in a lot of other municipal recycling programs based on what I found.

Edie Brown, the city of Longview’s solid waste manager, told me the pill bottles are “so small” that the sorting equipment at the recycling facility doesn’t capture them. They end up in the landfill “with other contaminants in the recycling stream.”

She pointed me toward a website, earth911.com, that talks about a program in Cincinnati — Matthew 25: Ministries, that accepts pill bottles that are mailed to the nonprofit organization. (I didn’t find any local programs, but I hope y’all let me know if I’ve missed something.) If you want more information, visit https://m25m.org/pillbottles/ . Here’s what the organization says about its program:

“Matthew 25: Ministries accepts donations of empty plastic pill bottles for inclusion in shipments of medical supplies and for shredding and recycling. Our pill bottle program fulfills the dual needs of improving medical care in developing countries and caring for our environment.”

The program accepts any size prescription and over-the-counter pill bottles that come with or without child-proof caps. However, only bottles with their plastic lids will be included in shipments of medical supplies.

“Pill bottles that are not appropriate to include with shipments of medical supplies are recycled and may generate revenue that supports Matthew 25: Ministries’ programs,” the organization says.

Someone who wants to send pill bottles for use in medical supplies should: sort bottles by color and type, remove the labels and glue residue, wash the bottles in hot water and dish soap and rinse and dry them. Then, put the lids back on and place the pill bottles in plastic baggies labeled as “clean bottles.” Mail your bottles to: Matthew 25: Ministries; 11060 Kenwood Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45242.





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