FTC Slaps Office Depot with $35m fine for fake virus alerts
It's not uncommon for people today to suspect that big brother, or a big corp to be using some less than angelic tactics. But this is one of those times, where the tactic was so underhanded that its making headlines.
Office Depot has been selling their own repair and "PC Health Check" services to customers, and between 2009 - 2016 customers were lead to believe issues with the computers required Office Depot and support.com technicians to intervene. The software installed by Office Depot was falsely notifying customers of computer problems tricking them into thinking they needed to pay expensive service and repair fees for no reason at all.
I feel this is one of the worst abuses of trust between a tech company and end users to date. One you would not expect from a reputable company like Office Depot. It's intolerable and infuriating to any self respecting technician to hear this kind of blatant abuse from a single technician, let alone two multi-million dollar companies full of technicians that said nothing.
In our opinion the $35m is not enough to make an example if this situation. They are simply concentrating on the money spent by customers to fix the fake issues and get it reimbursed. It is quite possible for the software used to also gather data and report it back to the company much like a Trojan horse, I wouldn't trust a company that openly defrauded customers that they didn't do this or even worse. We aren't implying they did, but we are saying it is a possibility.
It's important to know that that your computer technician is trustworthy, respectable and honest. If you don't have that trust, you shouldn't be taking them your computer, it could potentially be damaging to you. Now that Office Depot has lost that trust its going to be hard for them to regain it. If they even can.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to know your go to computer person is trustworthy. I don't exactly have a checklist you can use to determine the character of an IT person. The best advice I could give is to ask friends and family, do some research online to find a repair store that has a high ranking, and a great reputation with in the community. Talk with the technician that will be working on your system, and make your own conclusion on your first impression. I know its not a guarantee but a lot of us have a better sense of someones character simply by talking with them. Finally, if you aren't sure you can trust this person but you still need service. Take your hard drive out and have the technician install a new one. Yes it's a pain, Yes you will have to copy all your stuff manually using an adapter. Yes its going to cost more. But how much is your privacy worth?
Finally, We aren't saying take a lie detector with you to your current IT person. But we are saying lets take a closer look at their character.
Please stay safe, protect yourself and your data. Please see the following links for more information.