Tech Support Companies Charged with Scaring Consumers into Buying Unnecessary Services
The companies allegedly used deceptive pop-up ads to scare consumers into spending hundreds of dollars each
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is charging the operators of a multi-national tech support company with scaring customers into purchasing services they did not need.
The company allegedly scared consumers into spending hundreds of dollars each on technical support services that were not necessary by using pop-up ads.
An order that temporarily stops these practices from being used by the defendants, in addition to freezing their assets, has been issued by a federal court. The defendants have commonly operated their business using the name Global Access Technical Support.
The complaint filed by the FTC claims that the defendants employed affiliated marketers to place pop-up advertisements designed to deceive consumers into believing that the ads came from real technology companies such as Apple or Microsoft. These ads misleadingly warned the consumers that their computers had been infected with viruses or malware. They often included loud alarms or recorded messages that warned of the apparently serious threat to the computers, and they "hijacked" browsers so that consumers were unable to either navigate around the ads or close them. They directed consumers to contact a toll-free phone number.
The complaint further alleges that, once consumers called this number, they were then connected to a call center located in India and were pitched by telemarketers claiming to be either affiliated with or certified by a major technology company. They were informed that in order to diagnose the issue, they had to provide remote access to their computer to the telemarketer, who, upon receiving such access, would show the consumers apparently innocuous screens and directories on their computers. This would deceive the consumers into believing that they were being shown evidence of problems requiring repair by technical support services.
The telemarketers, claims the complaint, would pressure the consumers to spend between $200 and $400 on repair services that could take hours to finish and that were useless at best, while at worst could actually do harm to the computer.
The defendants are accused of violating the FTC Act. They include the following companies and owners: Global Access Technical Support, LLC (which also did business as Global S Connect, Yubdata Tech and Technolive); Global sMind LLC (which also did business as Global S Connect); Source Pundit LLC (which also did business as OneSource Tech Support); Helios Digital Media LLC; VGlobal ITES Pvt. Ltd.; Rajiv Chhatwal; Rupinder Kaur; and Neeraj Dubey.