Monday, March 14, 2005

FTC Bars Bogus Spyware Claims

A Federal Trade Commission press release notes:
"An operation that offered consumers free spyware detection scans that 'detected' spyware even if there was not any, to market anti-spyware software that does not work has been barred from making deceptive claims by a U. S. District court at the request of the FTC. The FTC will seek a permanent halt to the marketing scam and redress for consumers. In papers filed with the court, the FTC alleges that Spyware Assassin and its affiliates used Web sites, e-mail, banner ads, and pop-ups to drive consumers to the Spyware Assassin Web site. After exposing consumers to a litany of the dire consequences of having spyware on their computers, the Web site warns, 'you WILL eventually experience credit card and/identity theft and your computer will ultimately crash and cease working for good . . . It's not a matter of if, but truly a matter of when.' "

"According to the FTC complaint, the Web site offers to scan consumers' computers at no cost to determine whether they're infected with spyware. One 'scan' -- the remote scan -- is performed when consumers land on the Web site. The free 'scan' displays a pop-up message that states, 'URGENT ERROR ALERT: You have dangerous spyware virus infections on your computer. Click OK to install the latest free update to fix these errors. Immediate action is highly recommended before you continue!' The other 'scan' -- the 'local scan' -- is performed when consumers click to download the defendants' software. Both scans warn consumers that they have spyware installed on their system. The FTC charges that, 'the defendants' free remote scan is phony, and the defendants' representations that they have detected spyware on the consumer's computer are deceptive.' "

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