A shadowy “tech support” industry based in Palm Beach County has given fits to consumers and regulators alike, with one Lake Worth man accused this year of faking Federal Trade Commission news releases in pursuing victims of past schemes.
That provides a colorful if slightly awkward backdrop to the FTC’s announcement this week it is sending emails to notify eligible consumers they are eligible for a share of $10 million in refunds after a significant settlement. The refunds come from an agreement with Boca Raton-based Advanced Tech Support, which also used the name Inbound Call Experts.
That’s not the full amount consumers paid but what state and federal officials were able to seize for refunds, so a release describes the refunds as “partial.”
The FTC alleges that for years, a spate of such schemes have scared people into buying worthless software and support, sometimes for hundreds of dollars apiece, to “fix” non-existent computer viruses and malware. Palm Beach County has been home to several companies that employ various forms of advertising, computer pop-ups and telemarketing, often aimed at seniors.
There are even alleged follow-up scams, reaching out to victims and seeking fees to get refunds. One Lake Worth man, Daniel L. Croft, was ordered by a court in April to stop posing as someone affiliated with the FTC.
One tip to tell if the email is real: The FTC email will not ask you for any fees to claim a refund.
The FTC says its emails about refunds in this case will come from: firstname.lastname@example.org
The email will have a claim number and a PIN that will give you access to apply for a refund, officials said. If you get an email, follow the instructions and respond by Oct. 27.
Still a little confused and wary? That’s understandable in this case. You can avoid clicking the link in the email and start the claims process at ftc.gov/TechSupport or call the refund administrator at 877-793-0908, federal officials say.
The refund applies to eligible consumers who bought tech support products and services between April 2012 and November 2014. Again: the deadline to apply is Oct. 27, 2017.