Microsoft is finally cracking down on scammers who offer to fix non-existent computer problems for hundreds of dollars. In a first strike, Microsoft sued several US companies it said are involved in fake tech support scams. For years, people have been receiving calls from companies pretending to be official Microsoft tech support staff, who try to convince the victim that their computer is infected with a virus. The scammers often offer to deal with it for a fee.
Microsoft has launched its first US lawsuit against companies offering phoney phone support for its products and says it plans further operations in the UK and India to stamp out the scammers. Fake tech support calls have been around for a few years now. A caller will claim to be calling from Microsoft technical support saying that a virus has shown up on their computer and offering to fix it for a fee. The “support’ usually costs hundreds of dollars and leaves the targtet computer either unchanged or with new malware added. The problem is widespread, and Microsoft says it has received 65,000 calls complaining about the scam since May of this year alone and estimates that such fraud brings in over US$1.5bn in illicit income every year. Now Redmond’s lawyers have filed a legal case against Omnitech Support, a division of California-based firm Customer Focus Services, for running these calls. Microsoft is claiming trademark infringement, domain squatting and unfair and deceptive business practices, and calling for a jury trial to decide the issue.