The FTC says it has begun the process of refunding $10m it collected from a tech support scam operation.
The US trade watchdog said customers who bought bogus security software from a company called "Advanced Tech Support" or "Inbound Call Experts" will be eligible to get partial refunds.
According to the FTC, the operators of those Florida-based companies operated a tech support scam that sold consumers – in many cases senior citizens – software and services to address computer problems that didn't actually exist.
Using everything from search and display ads to getting bundled in as affiliates or support providers for other software, the two companies (and their various aliases) lured consumers to call their tech support lines. An operator would conduct a fake 'inspection' of the victim's machine using software that had been set up to always report problems such as malware infections, or misidentify benign software as posing a stability or security threat.
From there, the operators sought to sell the victims additional security and support tools that did little or nothing to improve the performance and security of their systems.
Last year, the FTC got a $10m settlement against the company and its owners, and now the commission says it is ready to begin handing that money out to the customers who were duped into purchasing the fake products between April 2012 and November 2014.
The $10m payout represents a tiny portion of the $120m the FTC claimed the operation pulled in.
Those who have been identified as eligible by the FTC will get an email from the commission with a PIN number that can be used to obtain the claim forms. In order to claim a share of the payout, consumers will have to fill out a claim before October 27.
Just make sure the email is from the FTC, and not another scam pretending to be the commission. Sadly, that exact thing has been done before. ®