Security is a huge concern in today’s tech environment, and for good reason: internet scams and data breaches hit headlines on a daily basis. However, when you purchase software applications that claim to keep your computer safe, you assume that you’ll enjoy some semblance of protection. That was certainly not the case for a vast subset of Office Depot and Support.com customers, who wasted considerable sums of money on so-called security scans that gave fake results.
Office Depot’s scheme has come to a halt, but consumers remain at risk. After all, Office Depot and Support.com are far from alone in their effort to defraud concerned computer users. Risks abound, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to navigate the confusing world of digital security.
At NerdsToGo, we believe that knowledge is power. The better you understand the latest fraudulent malware scams, the better you can arm yourself. Read on to learn more about Office Depot’s rigged scans – and to discover a better solution for computer repair in Portland, OR.
How Office Depot Tricked Customers into Buying Unnecessary Services
Office Depot’s scam first came to light in a 2016 exposé aired on KIRO 7 in Seattle. KIRO’s hardworking news team revealed that supposed infections uncovered at Office Depot stores had occurred on new computers that had not yet been connected to the internet. To lure in unsuspecting customers, Office Depot offered ‘free’ PC Health Check scans, which store representatives claimed were valued at up to $60. However, in reality, the PC Health Check scans were designed to tell customers that their computers were infected, regardless of the scan’s actual results.
All it took to secure a red flag were consumer complaints of slow computers or repeated crashes. Ultimately, the scan’s results were based entirely on how customers responded to a carefully designed set of questions intended to mislead them.
An FTC update addressing the scam explains that Office Depot “tricked…consumers into thinking their computers had symptoms of malware or actual ‘infections,’ even though the scan hadn’t found any such issues.”
Office Depot wasn’t alone in this fraudulent scheme. While customers who received deceptive scans often sought up to $300 in repair services from Office Depot or OfficeMax, Support.com was responsible for completing these services. Accordingly, Support.com received a sizable portion of the profits.
The PC Health Check scam began in 2009 and continued through 2016. During this time, the higher-ups at Office Depot were well aware of customer and employee complaints – but they failed to take action. Instead, store employees were told to continue offering free scans and to convert at least half of all PC Health Check runs into full-blown tech support service sales. Those who failed to meet sales goals were reproached.
Even after KIRO 7 revealed Office Depot’s scam, one of the company’s senior officials testified that “it would be proper for the company to continue offering the same PC Health Check to consumers.”
Penalties for Office Depot and Support.com
The FTC recently filed complaints against Office Depot and Support.com in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Both companies have agreed to settle. Office Depot will pay $25 million, while Support.com will provide an additional $10 million. The FTC will use this money to refund customers affected by the scam. However, the settlement also allows both companies to avoid admitting to or denying the FTC’s allegations.
Why Avoid Malware and Virus Removal Software?
Office Depot’s scam reveals just one of the many risks inherent in software designed to remove existing malware and viruses. Even if consumers manage to avoid outright fraud, malware removal software can prove dangerous – particularly for unaware users.
Concerned about your computer’s performance but not sure where to turn? Don’t fall for ‘free’ tests that could lead to wasted time and money. Instead of inadvertently causing damage via fraudulent or unreliable software, seek assistance from a trusted IT professional. The team at NerdsToGo can assess and safely remove any viruses currently on your device without prompting further damage.
If you’re determined to keep the threat of malware at bay, there’s no need to go it alone. NerdsToGo is committed to providing affordable and proven IT solutions. We are your go-to resource for small business computer repair and managed IT services. Our Nerds also help those impacted by viruses and malware, so don’t hesitate to schedule an in-home or in-office visit if you suspect you are the victim of an attack. Contact us today to get started.