Microsoft takes on scummy tech-support companies

Woody Leonhard

In late December 2014, Microsoft filed a lawsuit against a U.S.-based company that’s been accused of massive tech-support fraud.

If you’ve been the victim of a phony “tech support” call — or you know someone who has — it might be payback time.

In what’s probably the first legal action of its kind, Microsoft is suing a tech-support company for trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, and cybersquatting. According to the complaint (PDF), the defendants are the owners of Consumer Focus Services, a Los Angeles–based company that operates under various names such as Omni Tech Support, FixNow, and Techsupport Pro. The complaint also names other companies and describes the fraud as “a web of related entities that perpetrate technical support scams on Microsoft software and device users.”

No doubt you’ve at least heard of scammers purporting to be from Microsoft Tech Support. This type of fraud occurs worldwide and probably rakes in billions of ill-gotten dollars. I warned Windows Secrets readers about these scum in the Feb. 3, 2011, Top Story, “Watch out for ‘Microsoft Tech Support’ scams.” And Fred Langa related a reader’s experience in the Feb. 28, 2013, Top Story, “Security alert: Bogus tech-support phone calls.”

The scams take many forms, but the general outline goes something like this:

A “Microsoft support” person calls and states that your PC reported one or more “infections.” The caller then requests that you let him examine your system remotely. (In a common variation of the scam, you respond to an ad that promises to cure all your computer’s ills.)

If you let the bogus support person into your machine, he’ll soon “discover” dozens of “serious infections” and other “critical problems” that need to be fixed immediately. All you have to do is hand over your credit card to make your system right.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2015-01-22:

Woody Leonhard

About Woody Leonhard

Woody Leonhard is a Windows Secrets senior editor and a senior contributing editor at InfoWorld. His latest book, the comprehensive 1,080-page Windows 8 All-In-One For Dummies, delves into all the Win8 nooks and crannies. His many writings tell it like it is — whether Microsoft likes it or not.