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Office Depot coughs up $25 million over fake virus scans
Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Office Depot agreed to pay a $25 million settlement over what the agency alleged were bogus virus scans.
According to the announcement, Office Depot used diagnostics software called PC Health Check. Created and licensed by Support.com, the software would supposedly run a virus scan on a customer’s computer and conclude whether or not the computer was infected with malware.
The problem is that the software allegedly based its conclusion on questions that customers answered prior to the scan. For example, customers were asked if their computers ran slowly, received virus warnings, crashed frequently, and displayed pop-up messages.
If customers answered yes to at least one question, PC Health Check would conclude that their computers have “malware symptoms.” Office Depot then charged customers $300 for what turned out to be an unnecessary repair.
According to the FTC, Office Depot advertised and used PC Health Check from 2009 through November 2016. Also, the company allegedly pressured store managers and employees to generate sales from the software.
Support.com also agreed to settle to the tune of $10 million. The FTC plans to use Office Depot and Support.com’s settlements to issue refunds to affected customers and will post additional information sometime in the future.