The FTC has announced that the operators of two alleged tech support scams have agreed to settle agency charges that they deceived consumers into believing their computers were infected with viruses and malware, and then charged them hundreds of dollars for unnecessary repairs.
As set forth in the complaints, the defendants allegedly contacted consumers through phone calls or displayed advertisements on their computers designed to resemble pop-up security alerts from Microsoft, Apple or other technology companies. These ads purportedly warned consumers that their computers were infected with viruses, had been hacked, or otherwise compromised, and urged them to immediately call a toll-free number for assistance.
Once consumers called the toll-free number listed on the ads, they were connected to a call center and allegedly pitched by telemarketers who claimed to be affiliated with well-known technology companies such as Microsoft. Consumers were also allegedly informed that in order to diagnose the problem, they had to provide the telemarketers with remote access to their computers.
After gaining access to consumers’ computers, the telemarketers allegedly ran a series of “diagnostic tests” that claimed to show that their computers had major problems requiring immediate repair by one of their “certified technicians.”
Through these high-pressure tactics, as alleged by the Commission, the defendants persuaded consumers to pay hundreds of dollars for unnecessary computer repair services, service plans, anti-virus protection or software, and other products and services. In some cases, the defendants purportedly installed malware on consumers’ computers.
The defendants are permanently banned from advertising, marketing, promoting or selling any tech support product or service under the terms of the settlements (or assisting others to do so). They are also prohibited from collecting or attempting to collect payment for a tech support product or service sold by the defendants, from deceptive telemarketing and misrepresenting their affiliation with another company or entity.
See here for more information on the settlements.
The FTC is showing no signs whatsoever of slowing down when it comes to enforcing the FTC Act. Contact an experienced FTC compliance and defense advocate if your company is the subject of a regulatory investigation or has been named in an enforcement action.
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