Forward email as attachmentAugust 31, 2014
Virtual MemoryJuly 31, 2015
SEATTLE – A software company whose self-proclaimed “performance-enhancing and PC maintenance” programs were purchased by more than 19,000 Washington residents must offer refunds to some of those consumers as part of a settlement announced today by the Washington Attorney General’s Office.
Fake tech support software refunds
The Attorney General’s Office accused Philadelphia-based Ascentive, LLC, of violating the state’s Computer Spyware Act, Consumer Protection Act and Commercial Electronic Mail Act through the use of deceptive marketing methods including spam and persistent pop-ups, misleading free “scans” and alarmist warnings that suggest a computer has severe problems, unfair billing practices and a cumbersome cancellation process.
- Misrepresented that consumers’ computers are at risk of harm through banner ads that resemble warning messages, pop-ups and graphical images.
- Sent deceptive e-mails that suggest the company’s software is recommended by Microsoft.
- Offered free scans that were bundled with other programs that launched excessive pop-up warnings and nagging alerts until the user either purchased the company’s product or uninstalled the software. The scans often identified harmless files as errors.
- Failed to disclose that by downloading one program in its suite of services, an additional program – essentially an advertisement for other software products – would also be installed.
- Added additional products to orders during the checkout process. Consumers had to uncheck boxes next to the products in order to avoid being charged.
- Failed to clearly disclose that consumers who purchased products were actually buying an annual license and would be automatically billed each year unless they cancel.
- Made it difficult for consumers to cancel orders or obtain refunds.
FTC cracks down on similar companies
There isn’t a $19.99 fix for computer problems. Most software like this causes more problems than it fixes. They are taking advantage of people’s “frugalness” and actually ends up costing them more. If it is too good to be true, it probably is.