The Feds just cracked down on a major “Tech Support” scam

You know those alarming “your computer is infected” popups you get when you visit seemingly un-related websites?  The folks at Consumer Report’s Consumerist blog have some good news for inexperienced internet users

Screen shot of a typical, allegedly deceptive popup via

Screen shot of a typical, allegedly deceptive popup via

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if a window pops up on your computer alerting you that your device has been compromised by a malware attack and offers to fix the problem by calling a toll-free number, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. To that end: federal regulators and the state of Florida have accused an international tech support operation of bilking millions of dollars from American consumers.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Florida Attorney General’s Office announced Friday that they have filed a complaint against several tech support operations in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, and Canada, accusing the companies of deceiving consumers on the security of their computers.


Good timing because by coincidence…

  1. Just last week had I spent time helping my wife rid her Mac of a particularly hard to remove “utility suite.”  The culprit?  She’d innocently clicked “check my computer” after one of those #%!#% prompts and received a rats nest of interconnecting applications where each time you’d delete one another app in the suite would re-install it.
  2. Just last week I cleaned up a former client’s website that was injecting exactly those sort of malware/malvertising popups on their site.  Ironically the infection had arrived via an update to a compromised “security” plugin!

Just a reminder that actual reputable computer security firms don’t have to resort to bogus alerts or compromised plugins to get customers.  In fact reputable security firms spend a surprising amount of time cleaning up after the bogus ones.

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David Innes,

I've been building and maintaining websites since 1997 and building and supporting similar hypertext-driven software since 1987. I've done maintenance, support, and maintenance for physical and digital systems since 1981. And no, I still haven't seen it all but by now I usually know where to look. More about David Innes...