What do you do if someone calls you from the Global Privacy Enforcement Network to tell you that your email account has been hacked and has been sending fraudulent messages? If you don’t remedy the situation pronto, they’ll have to take legal action against you. All you have to do is give your permission for the organization to fix the problem — and of course, give them your login so they can do that.
“Global Privacy Enforcement Network”? Sounds like the world’s central email police force. Sounds official. Maybe you’ll just say yes, sure.
Or maybe you’re a little wary. You ask a few questions, and the caller ups the pressure, possibly giving you the URL for their website so you can see they’re for real. While you’re on the phone, you check the Global Privacy Enforcement Network’s site and see that indeed, it’s an organization that helps governments work together on cross-border privacy cooperation. Maybe now you say yes. Or maybe you know that anyone can set up a website that looks official, and so you continue to stall.
At this point the caller might give you the phone numbers of actual Federal Trade Commission staff so you can check the network’s bona fides for yourself. Maybe then you say OK, go ahead.
Or maybe you tell the caller thanks, I’ll check in with the FTC. Apparently, FTC staff members have been surprised to get calls from members of the public asking about the Global Privacy Enforcement Network, because up until recently, they had never heard of such an organization.
Yes, it’s a scam.
Scams That Promise to “Fix” Your Tech Issues
The FTC put out an alert for the Global Privacy Enforcement Network scam on April 5 and advises you to be wary of all calls or emails from anyone who wants to gain access to any online or email account for purposes such as tech support (see our alert about the Microsoft tech support scam).
- Don’t give control of your computer to anyone who calls you offering to fix it
- Never give out or confirm your personal info to someone who contacts you via phone or email
- If you’re are getting pressure to act immediately, hang up — it’s almost surely a scammer
- If someone contacts you about an email or computer issue, contact your computer security software company or email provider directly. Don’t use the contact info a caller or email provides — find the contact information yourself.
If you are contacted by someone who you suspect of being a scammer, make an online report to the FTC by clicking here.
Read more about protecting yourself from scams in our article “How to Protect Your Personal Information from Cybercrooks”