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Watch out for these tech support store scams

Watch out for these tech support store scams
photo courtesy of shutterstock

Dealing with a malfunctioning computer is extremely frustrating. A number of issues, such as a virus or spyware, could lead to your computer running ridiculously slow or have it locked up altogether.

If you're not a computer technician, you most likely would take a problematic PC to a repair center to get it diagnosed. However, that's not always the safest solution.

There has been a rash of tech support store scams being reported lately. With that in mind, I'll give you some ideas on how to speed up your computer at home.

Example of a recent Tech Support scam

A recent example was uncovered by Jesse Jones, from KIRO 7 in Seattle, claiming that some Office Depot locations are scamming customers.

Jones, along with some producers, visited Office Depot locations from Washington and Oregon. He had their techs run Office Depot's free PC Health Check on six computers. Four of those six stores claimed that the PCs showed symptoms of malware.

The catch is, all of the computers were brand new, right out of the box. They had never been connected to the internet. Making it virtually impossible for them to be infected with malware.

Technicians told Jones his computer was infected, then tried selling him an Office Depot repair. Those repairs would cost up to $180.

Without having the computers repaired, Jones took them to a local security company to have them checked. They were all found to be malware free.

The same type of investigation on Office Depot was also recently carried out by WFXT in Boston. It found that two out of three brand new computers were misdiagnosed and claimed to show symptoms of malware.

Why this is happening

Before techs run the PC Health Check, they ask the customer to describe what they are experiencing with their PC. There are four options to choose from.

  1. Slow speeds
  2. Random shut downs
  3. Pop-up problems
  4. Virus warnings

If the customer says they are experiencing any of these, the tech checks a box located in the PC Health Check next to the corresponding issue. It turns out that if any of these boxes are checked, the software automatically reports that the PC is showing symptoms of malware.

This means the test results are predetermined and the customer is advised to pay for a repair.

In response to these shocking allegations, Office Depot has stopped using PC Health Check. The company also said it does not condone the type of conduct reported in the investigations and is performing a full review of the situation.

That is just one of the latest tech support scams, there are others. Before taking your computer to a repair shop, there are steps you can take to try and speed up your PC yourself.

Next page: How to speed up your computer
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