The Federal Trade Commission has fined Office Depot $25 million for bogus virus scans. The company has agreed to pay the fine as part of a settlement with the FTC for allegedly lying to customers so that they would pay for unnecessary tech support. Customers were offered free virus scans and then told that their computers were infected with malware even when they weren’t.
The FTC points out that Office Depot effectively fleeced millions of dollars from customers for unnecessary computer repair services between 2009 and November 2016. It used a software called PC Health Check to run the bogus scan, a tool created and licensed by Support.com. The results that were produced after a scan was really based on questions that a customer was asked before the scan.
The questions included whether the customer felt the computer was running slowing, received virus warnings, displayed pop-up ads, and crashed often. If any of these questions were answered in the affirmative, the scan would show that the device had “malware symptoms.”
Office Depot would then offer customers to fix the issue and often charged up to $300 for such work. The alleged scheme has also cost Support.com $10 million as it has also agreed to settle with the FTC.