This week, Office Depot agreed to pay $25 million in a settlement fine with the Federal Trade Commission. The company allegedly lied to customers in order to get them to pay for unnecessary tech support. Representatives offered customers free virus scans, which would then claim the customer’s computer as infected with malware, even if it was not.
According to the FTC, Office Depot scammed customers out of millions of dollars in computer repair and service fees between 2009 and November 2016. Office Depot carried out the scam by using a piece of diagnostic software called PC Health Check, which was created and licensed by Support.com.
While the tool was scanning a customer’s computer, the results produced were based on the questions the customer had answered prior to starting the scan. The questions included whether the computer was running slow, received virus warnings, crashed often or ever displayed pop-up ads. If a customer ever answered yes to one of the four questions, the software would say that it had “malware symptoms.” After alerting the customer, Office Depot would offer to fix the problem and charge them up to $300 in unnecessary repairs.
While Office Depot has agreed to pay the $25 million fine, Support.com has also agreed to a $10 million settlement with the FTC. Fake tech support services are fairly common these days when you have phishing and robocall scams, but a customer would not expect this type of scam from a reputable business like Office Depot.