Mory LaShier says he uses his computer for just about everything these days.
From paying bills to making airline reservations, he says he depends on his computer.
"Without it, it will be detrimental because everyone has to have a computer," LaShier told 3 On Your Side.
So, you can imagine LaShier’s surprise when his phone rang recently and the person on the other end said LaShier’s computer was infected with a virus.
"She said, ‘Mory we really need to get you in front of your computer. It's getting ready to crash and there are a lot of things wrong with it,'" he remembers being told.
The caller was with a company called iTecGeek, and told LaShier they were affiliated with Microsoft.
As a result, LaShier says he felt kind of comfortable allowing the caller to remotely log in to his computer to get rid of that virus.
"He said, 'I need to get into your computer to help you fix this,'” LaShier says he was told.
“At that point, is there a charge?” Harper asked.
“Not then,” he replied.
LaShier became suspicious and actually took video of the caller navigating through his computer and uploading software.
Then, LaShier says he was presented with a bill, a $497 bill for reportedly fixing his computer.
"I'm like dude, that's not going to happen," he said.
LaShier refused to pay, but now he says iTecGeek is continually calling him and demanding payment.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, this type of billing practice is referred to as the "Tech Support Scam."
The federal agency says representatives "... call and claim to be computer techs associated with well-known companies like Microsoft or Apple."
And, the Better Business Bureau warns that iTecGeek has a pattern of complaints where they claim to be "...affiliated with Microsoft, which is not the case. The business then charges the consumers to fix the virus which does not exist."
"They lied to me, man. They lied,” LaShier said.
3 On Your Side emailed iTecGeek about LaShier and they said they'll look into the issue.
Still, LeShier says their bills are very intimidating. In fact, iTecGeek’s bill says if LaShier doesn't pay, the matter will be deemed as a civil theft. They go on to say, "You will also get reported to the credit bureau which will affect your FICO score."
LeShier says he's not paying a penny, but he remains concerned that his computer is now compromised.
"We're thinking of killing that computer and buying a new one. We just want to start all over,” he said.
Here is a statement 3 On Your Side received from iTecGeek.Hi Gary,
Mr. and Mrs. Mory and Peggy Lashier requested for our service and we also have multiple signed documents. They haven’t been charged for the service.
If the money was charged and Customer is not happy with the service our policy is total refund, however Mr. and Mrs. Mory and Peggy Lashier are not charged as mentioned earlier.
We have hundreds of customers and we try our best to respond to all service request in a prompt manner.
Mr. and Mrs. Mory and Peggy Lashier promised to pay after the servicing is done that is the reason why we called them as a reminder for the payment.
The document signed by Mr. and Mrs. Mory and Peggy Lashier clearly states that we are not at all affiliated with MICROSOFT Inc.
Thanks & Regards,
Team ItecGeek.Microsoft's Statement on "Tech Support" calls:“Tech support scams are an industry-wide problem and it’s important to know that Microsoft will never proactively call you to provide technical assistance. If you receive an unsolicited phone call or see a pop-up on your computer—don’t take the risk—just hang up or close your browser. If you need tech support, reach out via the Microsoft Answer Desk or at a Microsoft store. People should immediately report any information about the scam to their local authorities, the FTC, and can also alert Microsoft through the Report a Scam form.” – a Microsoft spokesperson
Resources for consumers:Avoiding tech support scams How to report a tech support scam to Microsoft
Tips for consumers on how to help protect themselves from tech support scams:
Be wary of any unsolicited pop-up message on your device, don’t click on it, and don’t call the number. If you think you may have been the victim of a tech support scam, report your experience atwww.Microsoft.com/reportascam
and also file reports with law enforcement authorities, such as your local consumer protection authority. If you’re ever unsure about whether or not Microsoft is trying to contact you, hang up and contact Microsoft directly at the Microsoft Answer Deskwww.support.Microsoft.com
. Never give control of your computer to a third party unless you can confirm that it is a legitimate representative of a computer support team with whom you are already a customer. Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication we have with you must be initiated by you.
Background reading:Pop-Ups and Impostors: A BBB Study of the Growing Worldwide Problem of Tech Support Scams
– Dec 11, 2017Microsoft teams up with the Better Business Bureau to issue warning on tech support scams
– Dec 11, 2017The fight against tech support scams
– May 18, 2017Tech support scams are a growing problem
– Oct 17, 20162016 Global Survey on Tech Support scams
– Oct 17, 2016For more information from the Federal Trade Commission about "tech support" calls,click here
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