updated - September 17, 2019 Tuesday EDT
Attorney General of Washington State Bob Ferguson has announced in a press release that they are suing iYogi, one of the biggest independent tech support providers in the world, and its president, Vishal Dhar.
The lawsuit is to stop a scam that uses deception and scare tactics to pressure consumers into buying unnecessary tech support services.
Washington State said that the lawsuit, which was filed in King County Superior Court, alleges that iYogi's tactics are unfair, and it uses deceptive business practices.
These practices violate Washington's Consumer Protection Act.
The lawsuit also claims that iYogi convinced consumers to install unnecessary software as part of its ploy to coerce them into buying more tech support services.
This, on the other hand, is in violation of Washington's Computer Software Act.
Washington State said that the total numbers of Washington citizens affected are estimated to be in the hundreds, if not thousands.
The state may seek up to $2,000 in civil penalties for each violation of the Consumer Protection Act and $100,000 per violation of the Computer Software Act.
Ferguson said that the lawsuit "sends a message to tech support scammers that my office will hold them accountable."
"Tech support scams defraud consumers and often trade on the good reputations of legitimate businesses," he said.
The scam is done by iYogi associating itself with major tech companies like Microsoft, Apple, and HP so when consumers call, iYogi representatives claim to provide tech support service on behalf of the company the consumer is inquiring about.
Once access to the consumer's computer is granted, iYogi identifies a benign but complex-looking file and claims the "infected files" harm the computer.
iYogi then misleads the consumer into downloading the company's diagnostic software to fully identify the computer problems.
A diagnostic report appears on the consumer's screen that claims a malware or other serious defects are found.
iYogi misrepresents the report by saying these items harm the computer when the items are actually routine programs that pose no threat.
The company's representatives would then start to aggressively sell a tech support plan to fix the non-existent problems, once consumers are alarmed.
The plans can cost for as low as $140 and can go as high as $379. iYogi also pushes an antivirus software for $80, saying the computer doesn't have an antivirus even if an existing software is already installed on the consumer's computer.
Brad Smith, the chief legal officer of Microsoft, told USA Today that they get many complaints from their customers about iYogi.
"This particular company is the fifth-most complained about company by our customers to our customer phone lines," he said.
A call to iYogi for comments wasn't immediately returned.
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