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Office Depot computer scans gave fake results

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Most of us manage basic computer safety on our own. We keep security software and firewalls up to date, and ignore pesky pop-up ads about computer health. Many of us would gladly take advantage of a free computer tune-up from a big-name retailer. We wouldn’t suspect the tune-up might be a tech support scam.

But according to a recent FTC complaint, that’s exactly what happened at Office Depot and OfficeMax stores. Many customers who took their computers in for a free “PC Health Check” at Office Depot or OfficeMax stores between 2009 and November 2016 were told their computers had malware symptoms or infections — but that wasn’t true. The FTC says Office Depot and OfficeMax ran PC Health Check, a diagnostic scan program created and licensed by Support.com, that tricked those consumers into thinking their computers had symptoms of malware or actual “infections,” even though the scan hadn’t found any such issues. Many consumers who got false scan results bought computer diagnostic and repair services from Office Depot and OfficeMax that cost up to $300. Support.com completed the services and got a cut of each purchase.

Office Depot, Inc. and Support.com, Inc. have both agreed to proposed settlements with the FTC to resolve the FTC’s allegations. This press release has details about the terms of the proposed settlements. The companies will be prohibited from making various deceptive claims and will also turn over a total of $35 million to the FTC, which the FTC expects to use for refunds. If the FTC can give refunds, we will publish another blog with details.

The FTC has information to help you manage security online. Read about ways to keep your computer security up to date. Learn how to avoid, discover, and get rid of malware that may download viruses onto your computer or cause it to crash. If you find malware was installed on your computer, you can report it to the FTC at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

 

Comments

Sooooo glad this company has been "caught". Hope that all who got sucked into this rip-off get their $ back.
They told me this story .... I told them to go pound sand !

Thank you for all of this information. In 2011 Office Depot tried to sell me on leaving my computer with them to scan for malware, virus, etc. for only $300.00". Never would I do this. They must have changed it to a "free scan" that later cost a customer $300.

The FTC has been working hard and its good to see results like these. Keep it up.

So is Support.com legitimate?

So angry about this. Bought this PC from them. Sold me ridiculous maintenance/warranty program. I ended up getting that refunded after writing the President of the company. I can't think of what an appropriate penalty for this would be. Refunds hardly seem enough!! On my own-I will NEVER do business with them again. Won't even buy a pencil. Might have a microphone in it!!!

Why is it when Consumers are scammed out of money, the Government profits? This time the FTC. $35 MILLION

  Office Depot has agreed to pay $25 million. Its software supplier, Support.com, Inc., has agreed to pay $10 million as part of their settlements with the FTC. The FTC intends to use these funds to provide refunds to consumers. If the FTC can give refunds, we will publish another blog with details.

To sign up for FTC email updates about this case and other consumer news, click the blue button near the top of the blog that says GET EMAIL UPDATES.

I agree with Bridgett Small. If you cannot get the money back to the consumers which is likely in most cases then the FTC stands to make a ton of money. While I think the FTC is actually doing a service for consumers it makes you pause and wonder how they are regulated and where the money really goes if it cannot be refunded.

The goal of FTC law enforcement actions is to halt illegal practices, and when possible, get refunds to people who lost money.

After an FTC lawsuit or settlement is final and the defendants have paid the money the court orders, the FTC develops a plan for returning the money to the right people. If there is money left over at the conclusion of the refund program, or if there is not enough money to provide meaningful refund amounts, then the FTC sends the money to the U.S. Treasury, where it is deposited into the General Fund. The FTC keeps none of the money for its future operations.

From July 2017 - July 2018, the FTC directed dozens of mailings to send $122 million in refunds, and supported refund programs administered by FTC defendants or another federal agency to deliver more than $2.3 billion in refunds. Read the 2018 Annual Report on Refunds to Consumers.

Wow! I find this very disturbing! Never again will I step into an Office Depot Store which is where I buy my ink.

It is interesting that this is such a "best kept secret" and I have not seen in my local papers or on the big news!

I am disgusted!

The Bellevue, WA store scammed me. I left my computer, went home. Something didn't sit right with me. Went back and demanded my computer back.

Great work. To me this what the gov. should be doing,protecting the citizens.

Thank you very much for sharing this information with me.

Wow, I had not heard of this huge scam by Office Depot/ Office Max. Thank you for letting us know about this.

A jail sentence for the CEO would be a better deterrent than a fine.

damn FTC, you guys are on fire! Even American based companies are guilty of these tech support scams! nice to see you guys bringing justice on our own soil.

Suppport.com is misspelled.

Thanks. Fixed it.

Wow. And these are trusted brands. Another byproduct of monopoly business models.

That's so appropriate to do now,so as to the increase in Scam and fraud...kudos

Anyways this news is about an Investigation between 2009 and November 2016...that means that it's just an old news . I don't know why "screaming so loud for some facts that happened so long ago. And most of the newspaper...wrote about the facts but not about the date they happened...making the new management as guilty and ...they are not guilry cause ODP new management came in 2017.

I went to office depot during this time with 2 computers and had to repurchase a new computer because of this what kind of settlement refund are we entitled to thanks

The companies will turn over a total of $35 million to the FTC, which the FTC expects to use for refunds. If the FTC can give refunds, we will publish another blog with details.

To sign up for FTC email updates about this case and other consumer news, click the blue button near the top of the blog that says GET EMAIL UPDATES. 

It's not really a surprise: large stores do little help and, as described here, inflict actual harm to customers. Their reputation rightly is damaged.

Took my laptop to them and they sent it off which I was nervous about. After 4 weeks and shipping each way they said nothing was wrong. That was a lie. I took it home and though I'm not a tech expert, after much research and digging I managed to find and fix the problem. Would never trust them with a tech issue again.

Why no jail time for anyone? I'm assuming the fines are paid by the companies, not the individuals who schemed them. Those individuals probably pocketed a lot of cash indirectly!

The FTC is a civil law enforcement agency. If an FTC case includes behavior that also violates criminal laws, we inform criminal prosecutors. Many of our partner agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Attorneys, and other federal, state, and local criminal law enforcers, have the power to put people in jail.

Why aren’t people at OfficeDepot and OfficeMax being put in jail for fraud?!

Completely new management has taken over since all of this happened. Board Members made changes right away when the news broke back a few years ago when it went public.

"... If the FTC can give refunds, we will publish another blog with details."

Scam, Part 2. If the FTC somehow cannot give refunds, then they get an extra 35M to play with. I see how this will turn out.

After an FTC lawsuit or settlement is final and the defendants have paid the money the court orders, the FTC develops a plan for returning the money to the right people. If there is money left over at the conclusion of the refund program, or if there is not enough money to provide meaningful refund amounts, then the FTC sends the money to the U.S. Treasury, where it is deposited into the General Fund. The FTC keeps none of the money for its future operations.

From July 2017 - July 2018, the FTC directed dozens of mailings to send $122 million in refunds, and supported refund programs administered by FTC defendants or another federal agency to deliver more than $2.3 billion in refunds. Read the 2018 Annual Report on Refunds to Consumers.

To get informed, sign up for FTC email updates about this case and other consumer news. Click the blue button near the top of the blog that says GET EMAIL UPDATES.

I worked as Manager from 2004 till 2015. We were routinely given warnings if we did not make the percent of required repairs. I think we all knew it was fake but figured there was not much you could but quit.

Thank you Bridget Small of the FTC for your prompt and informative replies regarding recovery of funds. FTC does great work for America. Sadly, this overwhelming majority of people are not tech savvy and believe these scammers. I've been working in IT for many, many years and I have caught three companies trying to take advantage of my elderly neighbors and got hundreds of their dollars returned after I confronted these scammers. It is so disheartening to think of what some people will do to the unsuspecting for a couple of bucks.

I worked for them for years and I hated that program because it made you lie to the customer. I reported it to the powers that be but was told if I didn't run it and sell these repair programs I was fired. I finally moved on to another job where I could help people with there computers and feel good about it.

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