Tech+ Mailbag: Can you really trust that stranger you just gave access to your computer?
Question (Edited): Ihada rather unsettling experience with a support company called iYogi this week. I have been a customer with them for 5-years. …(A support tech) ran the scan and I immediately noticed a message, “Infected by Real Time Spy Tool.” He brought up a page that had passwords & the Task Manager page showing a bunch of programs that were stopped. The McAfee virus program had just run a scan before this tech connected to my PC. At this point he wanted me to connect to my bank & make sure my account was OK. THAT’S WHEN I PULLED THE BATTERY ON MY PC & UNPLUGGED IT.
…So this time I made a call to see if the tech worked for iYOGI. At that number I was told that iYOGI was being sued, may be headed to bankruptcy. This number was a company called Techclub. After talking with them I agreed to let them connect to my PC. They assured me they could fix the issues & clean up the PC. They started at $400 & I got them down to $199.99 for one year. They went thru a process very similar to what was normal with iYOGI. They directed me to a web page, www.fastsupport.com. … I got an email contract, receipt for the payment, etc. I feel better but still feel nervous that the whole thing is a scam. — Larry Litle, Grand Junction
Tech+: I quickly Googled iYOGI and did not find anything that would make me trust the company. It has a low score on Consumer Affairs, years of questionable sales tactics and just lots of unpleasant stuff.
iYogi was a legitimate techsupport company based in India at one point. But its aggressive sales tactics caused at least one state — Washington in 2015 — to sue the Indiabased company.
It sounds like your recent experience is not unusual. Too bad you still decided to pay them $199.99.
I’m not going to attempt to get that money back for you, but let me try to teach you and other Tech+ readers how to take better care of yourselves when faced with questionable tech-support technicians.
First, don’t hand over your credit card to an online stranger. I mean why? At least use common sense. Anytime a strange pop-up or ad asking for money “or else” shows up on your computer screen, get rid of it. How?
•Try the simple way of closing the page by clicking the X
•If that doesn’t work, most internet browsers let you close a tab by hitting the keys Ctrl+W or Ctrl+F4
•In Google Chrome, close a page by selecting the three dots in the upper right corner, then “More Tools” and then “Task Manager.” Click the page you want to close.
•If nothing else works, shut down the internet browser with Microsoft’s Task Manager: Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete, select Windows Task Manager, go to “Processes” and highlight the service (ie: the internet browser) and hit “End Process.”
•And of course, if that doesn’t work, reboot your PC.
If you think a company can help you, find out all you can about the company.
•Google it, for starters. But also search for it by typing the company name and “scam” or “reviews” or “lawsuits.” To see current news, check Google News to find any recent reports. If more than a few sites are saying stay away, then stay away!
•Sites like HomeAdvisor and Angie’s List (which will soon have the same owner) also have company ratings AND either vet professionals or offer some sort of guarantee.
•Check out the company’s site. Anyone can set up a professional looking site. But is there an “about us” page or a physical address and phone number? Use Google Street View to check out the address and see what’s at the actual location.
•Check the company’s social-networking pages, its blog or its recent-news page. If those haven’t been updated for years, stay away!
•If the company is in the U.S., check with the Secretary of State’s office for active business licenses. In Colorado, the Secretary of State’s office at dpo.st/bizlookup lets you peer at active business licenses and get more details about the company.
Back in 2012 when you signed up with iYogi, news reporters like Brian Krebs (a former Washington Post reporter who today is well regarded for independently covering the dark-side cybersecurity) wrote about iYogi. Krebs is the one who exposed iYogi for what it is, causing antivirus company Avast to drop iYogi as its tech support. So, that information was already floating around when you signed up.
But I can understand why some consumers may have kept the service, especially since noted security firm Avast itself recommended them. If you find yourself in that scenario, pester the security company. They sold you on the third-party tech support so they should be held responsible.
Also, don’t forget the in-person tech help that is available — also for a fee — by legitimate local companies. Take that allegedly battered computer to your local Microsoft Store, Apple Store, Micro Center, Best Buy, etc. At least you’ll know where to track them down if they do you wrong. Miss a week? Then subscribe to the new weekly Tech+ newsletter to get this week’s question plus more delivered right to your inbox. Sign up, see past Tech+ answers or ask your own tech question at dpo.st/mailbag. If you’re emailing your question, please add “Mailbag” to the subject line.