Symantec Called A Scareware Scammer, Slapped With Lawsuit

Brad Chacos

We’ve all seen scareware in action: that especially annoying type of malware that pops up thousands of windows, each shrieking OH NO YOUR COMPUTER HAS UMPTEEN MILLION VIRUSES and extolling users to purchase fake antivirus software (using a credit card, of course). Real antivirus programs like Symantec’s Norton line are designed to ferret out malicious programs like that and kick them to the curb. However, one unhappy user claims that Symantec’s nothing better than a scareware-peddling scammer itself, and he’s slapped the company with a class-action suit for falsely pushing its wares.

James Gross claims that Symantec’s PC Tools Registry Mechanic, PC Tools Performance Toolkit and Norton Utilities software all claim, “in an extremely ominous manner, that harmful errors, privacy risks, and other computer problems exist on the user’s PC, regardless of the real condition of the consumer’s computer.”

Forbes reports that Gross ponied up $30 to fix the problems found by Registry Mechanic, but “computer forensics experts” he hired later told him that Symantec programs are full of crap and always say that systems have issues. Skimming through the complaint – which Forbes reproduces in full – Gross says that Symantec knows that the tools’ claims of “Low System Health” and “High Priority Errors” -- in big, red, scary letters nonetheless -- are false.

Symantec, of course, disagrees, and when Forbes reporter Andy Greenberg tried out Registry Mechanic, it never asked him to buy the full-fledged program despite finding high priority issues. In fact, it fixed them for free.

Then again, Symantec has been criticized for its heavy-handed scare tactics before. Do you think the case has any merit?

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