Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Symantec Sued for Scareware Tactics - January 2012

Sometimes marketing tactics can be a bit too aggressive for people. Washington state resident James Gross sued Symantec earlier in January. In the lawsuit against Symantec, he is claiming that Symantec offers customers a free, non-diagnostic scan that fraudulently detects critical issues on people's computers. The scan offers to fix many of these issues free. However, it then prompts the consumer to pay system tune-ups to clean out the rest of the errors. Products in question – PC Tools Registry Mechanic, PC Tools Performance, Toolkit, and Norton Utilities. is owned by Symantec.

According to the complaint, “Symantec intentionally designed its Scareware to invariably report, in an extremely ominous manner, that harmful errors, privacy risks, and other computer problems exist on the user's PC, regardless of the real condition of the consumer's computer."

In its response, Symantec stated, "Symantec does not believe the lawsuit has merit and will vigorously defend the case. The Norton and PC Tools solutions at issue are designed to improve the system performance of our customers’ devices in terms of speed, maintain the health of their machines, and protect our customers’ information.…. Several independent third parties have tested and reviewed these products very favorably, verifying the effectiveness of their functionality."

Included in the Forbes article is the full case - Case5:12-cv-00154-HRL Document1 filed 01/10/12 (filed in US District Court, San Jose (CA) Division.

I went to (CNET) and did a search on “free registry cleaner” for Windows devices. There were 721 products that showed on the list. The first three pages of products had 5 star ratings from the site (sorted by editor rating). One of the two adverts on the bottom of the web page was from “Free Registry Scan. Registry Cleaner Software. Try Now!”

Take these offers with a grain of salt. In addition, don’t click on any pop-up offers telling you that they can speed up your PC or that you have been infected by malware.

No comments: