Is Online PC Care A Scam?

imageIt finally happened! I finally got an unsolicited phone call from Online PC Care, a company which advertises – “instant support for all your computer related technical problems is just a click away” and “Online PC Care is the right place to resolve all your technical problems.”

I was well aware that many consider this type of online service (Online PC Care is just one of many companies saturating this market), to be an outright scam. Nevertheless, accepting the phone call and working through the sales presentation (which is effectively what it’s all about), was an opportunity to engage with a self described “technical expert”, that I couldn’t pass up.

Based on errors in Windows Event Viewer (which Charlie, calling from India, walked me through), the diagnosis indicated my PC was “pretty sick” – infested with malware, and pretty much ready for the scrap heap.

But luckily, there was a solution to this sad state of affairs – the purchase of a plan from Online PC Care – ranging in price from $120 (6 month Bronze Plan), to $200 for the (12 month Ultimate Plan). Or, a more specific Incident Based (Malware) Plan.

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Click graphic to expand

Event Viewer system logs can look pretty scary to an average user despite the fact, that the event recorded is often insignificant. Here’s an example – the Event Viewer, in the following graphic, indicates that the Volume Shadow Copy Service on this machine failed to start on boot this morning.

This is not an unexpected event – given that I have disabled  this service. If the Event Viewer didn’t show this error, then, I’d have something to worry about.

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Charlie, who was extremely polite throughout the phone call, focused on a more specific error reported by the Event Viewer – a display driver crash (numerous crashes, in fact). Charlie, then laid out a convincing scenario in which he led me, step by step, into agreeing that the crashes were directly related to multiple malware infections.

Malware infections that could easily be removed – if I agreed to allow remote access to my machine, provided credit card details, and purchased either a Duration Based Plan, or an “Incident Based Plan at a cost of $35.

It took all the patience I could muster, as I was led through the process, not to inform Charlie that the crashes were caused by a hardware acceleration bug in Firefox 4. My tongue is still sore from the number of times I bit down.

Eventually, rather than have to listen to the sales presentation again and again (a continuing focus of the phone call), I let Charlie know that he was full of s*it, and referred him to this Blog. Strangely, Charlie took the subterfuge very well, and disconnected only after apologizing profusely.

It’s a fair assumption that the number of average computer users being taken advantage of by unscrupulous online organizations like Online PC Care, has to be considerable. The sales presentation is slick, the “proof” of computer malfunction is convincing since the “malfunctions” are readily apparent in the Event Viewer. What could be more convincing than a series of neatly packaged Warnings, and Errors?

To add credibility, many of these online technical problem solvers will misrepresent themselves as either being associated with Microsoft or, working directly for Microsoft.

In this particular case, Online PC Care did not misrepresent their position and readily supplied the name, web site address, and the location from which the phone call originated.

That’s little consolation though, since the overall presentation was structured in such a way, as to attempt to fraudulently convince me I had serious computer problems, including a non-existing malware infection.

It’s discouraging to think that legitimate online computer technicians, who provide a much needed and valuable service, could be easily tainted by the number of scam artists who are now active in this field.

As always, I ask that you as an experienced computer user, be kind to your friends, relatives, and associates, particularly those who are new computer users, and let them know that this type of scam has reached epidemic proportions.

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40 Comments

Filed under computer repair, Don't Get Scammed, Interconnectivity, Internet Security Alerts, Online Safety, Remote Tech Support, Safe Online Shopping Tips, Windows Tips and Tools

40 responses to “Is Online PC Care A Scam?

  1. kenneth lunkins

    very good! my rule of thumb is “if i didn’t call you then i don’t need your service bye bye! just like ” you just win a prize”, or “we (will be) (are we are working (down the street) in the neighborhood. how did you get my phone number? and this call is being recorded…..they hurry up and get off the phone.

  2. Michael Fisher

    Hi Bill ~ fascinating

    I hope you’ll be emailing them a link to this ~ it would be great if they commented here

    BTW Did you ask ‘Charlie’ how he got your ‘phone number ?

    • Hi Michael,

      Actually, while I had Charlie on the phone I insisted that he visit Tech Thoughts – that’s when the script was dropped, and the blubbering and apologies tumbled out. Having a deep and commanding voice pays dividends. :)

      I suspect that these people (if they’re like other bad guys I’ve written about), keep track of unfavorable reviews – no need to email them.

      Not only did Charlie have my phone number, but my address as well. No surprise there – names, address and phone numbers are readily available for purchase. As is a surprising amount of additional information.

      Best,

      Bill

  3. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    LOL. The irony of it all. Charlie chooses to call a dude who knows more about computer security than most. I wish I had been a fly on the wall and able to listen.
    I get kind of similar calls too sometimes, from people who say they got my number from a “friend” and then try to sell me a TV or something. I don’t even listen to their crap, I just hang up.
    Hope Charlie calls me sometime. That would be a blast lol.
    Cheers
    Mal

    • Hey Mal,

      Yes, you’d be the perfect “victim” for this type of scam – you’d go down the phone at the guy!! lol

      When I was researching how widespread this scam is, I came across more than a few forum comments that showed Australia has already had a big problem with this type of scam. Looks like you didn’t get the pleasure. :)

      Funny enough, the day after I got the phone call, this scam was a feature story on the National News, here. The talking heads, as they usually do with techno stories, ballsed up the facts.

      It looks as if these guys jump from country to country as they wear out their welcome.

      Have a great weekend.

      Best,

      Bill

  4. Hey there,

    Thankyou for the wonderful story. I do find this story that you posted a little funny even if I shouldn’t be laughing at it.

    While I live in Australia I can’t really say how much of an issue it is. I have seen several fake calls from Microsoft go around, but nothing like this.

    Like Mal, I wish I was a fly and listen into this.

    I’m glad that you told the scammer to come here. I just hope that this teach him a lessen

    • Hey Daniel,

      I’m glad you picked up on the humour – very cool. :) While it is a serious topic, that shouldn’t mean we can’t have a little fun with it.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Bill

  5. Hi Bill,
    I gotta say, that’s some story.
    You are far more polite than I would have been, I hate telemarketers as it is. Problem is you know it works, probably a lot more than we’d like to think.
    Have a good weekend.
    Mark

    • Hey Mark,

      It is a problem, as you point out “it works, probably a lot more than we’d like to think”. The service concept behind this really is valuable – it’s a shame to see it twisted and bent out of shape by these parasites.

      I have my moments with telemarketers. We’re in the midst of a federal election up here, so the phone rings off the wall with workers asking for support for their candidate. When they ask for my support, I simply reply “No, you’re candidate is mentally ill”. Shocked silence is usually followed by “Uh, thank you for your time”. Saves me a lot of time. :)

      Have a good weekend as well.

      Best,

      Bill

  6. Max

    One of my regular customers had a run in with these people. She was so rattled that she hired me to come out and make sure there was no malware on her machine.

    Now here’s where it gets weird. She reported that she DID have a crash. Right before the phone rang with the foreign salesman “tech”. That was what rattled her so bad, she felt like she was being watched or something. Chalk it up to coincidence and old fashioned paranoia, but I checked the machine throughly and there was nothing there. A very strange incident.

    • Hey Max,

      I can understand your customer’s concern. Common questions on the forums on this included – how did they get my phone number and address, how did they know I had a computer, how did they know I had computer problems….. all leading to the same feeling your customer had – “she felt like she was being watched or something”.

      Good move on your part checking out her machine. I’m sure it relieved her anxiety.

      Bill

      • Max

        I’m willing to bet there’s no magic at work, unless you count simple probability as magic. You or I could probably cold call 10 people, and I bet more than half of them would report having some sort of issue with a computer. And of that number, it’s a good bet that at least one will be working on their PC when they receive the call. This unlucky person is given the impression that they are in some kind of bad horror film.

        “The service call is coming from inside the house! Get out of the house!”

        • Hi Max,

          LOL! “The service call is coming from inside the house! Get out of the house!”

          You’re absolutely right – probability is the key. Your numbers seem very reasonable, to me.

          Bill

  7. Kevin

    I just got one of these Indian crooks call me. I told them I use DOS 3.3 and I only download hardcore pornography, and I the only virus I have seen on it is the syphillus virus, to which I removed using Curry Cleanup Version 69. These losers still didn’t get it, so I just told them DOS 3.3 allowed me to track their call to their exact location and they then hanged up.

  8. Neeraj Rawat

    Hey Bill,

    What is their site address?Unfortunately Charlie got you lolz but this rarely happens and they get their client via outbond calls as well apart from the advertising stuff

    • Hey Daniel,

      On a Sunday, I check comments infrequently so it often takes a while to catch up.

      Thanks for the WOT link. One more reason for all users to run with WOT.

      Bill

  9. Ghislaine

    Bill…I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU for writting this! I was on the phone with Online PC Care and was just about to enter my credit card number when something in my gut said “this is a scam!!!” I made a hasty excuse to put Jack on hold which was easy because as he put it “my dog was shouting”. I did a quick google search and “boom” up popped your blog. I disconnected the call in that instant. You saved me $122 dollars and a nasty argument with my husband about how I let myself get scammed!! I am just an average computer user so wouldn’t have known any better until it was too late!!
    Thanks again
    Ghislaine

    • Hi Ghislaine,

      Gut feelings – where would we be without them?

      I’m happy to hear that yours kicked into overdrive, and caused you to do a Google search. It seems that Canadians (I’m in Toronto), are the target market for these fraud artists, at the moment.

      Bill

  10. Jennifer Brown

    Hello guys! This is Jennifer. I was surfing over the internet when I came across this shocking fictitious story by Mr. Bill Mullins. Well, all I can say is that I completely disagree with him. I have been availing the services of http://www.onlinepccare.com for the past 15 years, and I am thoroughly satisfied with their services. They have got highly skilled and experienced tech experts who resolved all the problems with my PC with ease. Moreover, their behavior and attitude are exemplary. As far as their authenticity is concerned,onlinepccare.com is owned by Pecon Software Limited, whose corporate website address is http://www.pecon.co.in, and all information regarding them can be received by contacting them at info@pecon.co.in.I have no personal gain in posting this, rather doing this out of gratitude.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      You have the right to disagree. But, your characterization of this article as a “shocking fictitious story”, is laughable. The only “fictitious” aspect in this post, is the blatant disregard for the truth by the Online PC Care salesman.

      You make the point that you have been using this service for 15 years, yet the Domain Name, PECON.CO.IN was created on June 7, 2002. Fictitious?

      Since, as you say, you have “no personal gain in posting this”, no doubt you’ll welcome an opportunity to educate yourself. Checkout http://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/onlinepccare.com. Better yet, use your “15 years” experience, to do a simple Google search on this company. Shouldn’t be too difficult – given your “15 years” experience.

      Frankly, your defense of this company is suspect (just surfing over the Internet, were you?), and less than impressive. I’d be much more interested in seeing the company directly address the issues raised here, and elsewhere.

      Bill

      • Hey Bill,

        Good one rest none of the sites are opening at my end dont know why?Also checked their alexa rank I dont think so they are getting good incoming calls that is why doing outbound that many call centers do but rarely a tech support even for me its the first one when it comes about offering a remote access on an outbond call lolz and how people can give remote access on an incoming call to them ,rest as you said they are targeting canadians these days -dont we have law in Canada to raise issue for refund to the card transaction within 15 days of purchase as we have in US?

        Neeraj

        • Hey Neeraj,

          I saw their Alexa ranking as well – not impressive.

          Once remote access has been agreed to, it’s not a complex process to arrange using any one of a number of freely available applications.

          As far as I know, there is no automatic right to cancel a credit card purchase in Canada. However, if a purchase is disputed, by law, the card issuer must assist the card holder.

          Bill

          • Yup I agree but the thing is how they convey someone to remotely access the computer still its kinda awkward to me someone says that I have a prob in my pc,will laugh and reply how do you know?

            Like what were there verbiage when they called you.If I have some probs in my PC might be I will search google will look a tech support and call the company,its really a great post on your blog and see how they came back via Jennifer lolz

  11. Sam

    OnLinePCCare is a genuine company based in Kolkata,West Bengal,India. It has been a leading pioneer in providing online PC support since 1987. it has earned a lot of accolades from its huge vase of customers all over the world for last 24 years. OnLinePCCare is promoted by the Pecon group of companies.
    The website of Pecon group of companies is http://www.pecon.co.in
    Any further query could be sent to info@pecon.co.in.
    There may be some other scamsters masquerading as OnLinePCCare. But that does not mean that OnLinePCCare is a fake company.
    OnLinePCCare never asks for bank or credit card details. The subscribers are requested to pay through PayPals.
    There are millions of satisfied customers of OnLinePCCare all over the world. Some scamsters are deliberately maligning the image of OnLinePCCare.
    Be careful of scamsters.
    Thanks and regards
    Samuel Jefferson

  12. Barry

    Sam, they may be genuine but that does not stop them being scam artists.
    Calling a number on the TPS no call list in the UK is illegal.
    Claiming that errors in the eventvwr log are due to viruses is a scam.
    Claiming they know its my PC registered to me when they call me in my partners flat, where I don’t live all the time and am not registered is clearly a scam.
    So either onlinepccare.com is a scam or they are paying scammers to work in illegal ways to forward traffic to them. If by maligning the image you mean being caught out whilst working for them then yo uare correct.
    Regards
    Barry

  13. KM

    Thanks for this post. I just got my first call from OPC today. Whether or not they’re a legitimate company, their tactics are fishy at best. Today’s caller tried her best to make it seem like I had dealt with the company before (I haven’t) and that this was just a routine check-up call (it wasn’t). She refused to answer any questions directly, responding only with the tell-tale sales-pitch (which I interrupted with my own questions) or with the question “What OS do you use?” (which I refused to answer with anything but repeating the question since, from what she’d said earlier in the call, it’s a question to which she should have known the answer).

    Long story short, they’re shady in method, if not in other ways, too. About the latter, I don’t know, and I don’t care to find out.

    So, again, thanks. This confirms some of my suspicions.

    • Hey KM,

      Thanks for letting us in on your experience with this company. Attempting to manipulated users in the way you describe, often works – unfortunately. Particularly, with less experienced users.

      Bill

  14. MJ

    I just received a phone call from “Online PC Care” today. I had received 3 similar phone calls last year from “Online PC Doctor” … I’m not sure if this is the same company, but their tactics are pretty much the same. I’m glad I had researched them, so I knew how to tell them off when they called again. This site confirmed my suspicions.. Thank you!

  15. MJ

    Just to add to my previous comment, please check out the you tube video on the site I am attaching to this note…. very interresting and it shows pretty much how they go about their business once they get control of your computer! http://www.symantec.com/connect/blogs/technical-support-phone-scams