Ars Technica: Office Depot Rigged PC Malware Scans to Sell Unneeded $300 Tech Support
Office Depot “tech experts” told customers that PC Health Check would “optimize” their computers, but in reality the software “did not run complete diagnostics on consumers’ computers,” the FTC said. Some later versions of the software did some “limited optimizations… such as removing junk files and reconfiguring certain settings.”
After displaying fake scan results to consumers who had checked any of the four boxes, PC Health Check “also displayed a ‘view recommendation’ button with a detailed description of the tech services consumers were encouraged to purchase—services that could cost hundreds of dollars—to fix the problems.”
In some cases, store employees checked the boxes themselves, guaranteeing that the software would produce a warning, the FTC complaint said. “Defendants trained Office Depot and OfficeMax store employees on how to utilize the PC Health Check Program and instructed store employees to check any of the Initial Checkbox Statements that applied based on the consumer’s responses,” the complaint said. “Consistent with their training, Office Depot and OfficeMax store employees read each of the Initial Checkbox Statements once the program began and selected the corresponding box based on the consumer’s response.”
This is an old story now, but running back across it makes me think about how hard it is to get people who struggle with technology to trust tech companies at all when supposedly trusted resources do things like this.