A Track Record of Fraud

Avast Software s.r.o. has developed a track record of utilizing their support phone number to sell unnecessary “services” to unsuspecting customers at exorbitant prices. As far back as 2011, complaints can be found online from Avast customers that were targeted by this scam. On customerservicescoreboard.com/Avast, reviews are posted as far back as September 15, 2011 with complaints such as:

  • Horrible! Major SCAM! When you go to upgrade for a paid version, then contact them for help, they CHARGE YOU per incedent to help move things to virus vault, etc! Completely ridiculous!” Another customer writes “They tried to sell me some program, before they would help me with my Avast AV issues. Very rude!

These complaints continue on up to present day. From May 29, 2015, a customer writes:

  • I called phone number for Avast 1866-951-7679 and after a unbearable wait I talked to some young lady who spoke so fast that I had no idea what she was saying. I finally got a so called supervisor who stated that they could load product on my computer for $ 200.00. When I told him that there was nothing wrong with my computer he said he could do it for $150.00. This is an absolute rip off and I requested that they remove charges from my credit account.”

Another customer on May 21, 2015 complains:

  • I’m going to amend this to read — not just rotten service but a SCAM. Avast is ripping people off. I had several recurring charges on my account which I knew nothing about — I never received a renewal email, nothing. Then of course when I called, they made a game out of ignoring me.

From May 11, 2015:

  • After calling the AVAST support line, I was duped into purchasing a “Total Support Package” for $179.00 I called because I had a subscription to Premier and suddenly my system reverted to the free version when it was “upgrading” Avast. I wanted the premier version that I had paid for back on my computer. Instead of simply telling me what I needed to do, the guy said he had to log into my computer to “investigate” the problem. He then showed me an event screen and showed me something that supposedly indicated that the security of my computer was “SEVERELY COMPROMISED” and that could only be fixed by purchasing the “Total Support System” for 179$.”

I think you can see a pattern to these complaints… As of June 14, 2015, this website alone has 319 total reviews of Avast, with 316 of those reviews being “Negative.” The list grows on a regular basis, with complaints very similar to the ones posted above. This is clearly not a case of just a few bad apples at Avast Support going rogue and selling services just a bit too aggressively. The length of time that this has been going on, along with the sheer number of complaints on one website alone, shows that Avast is actively “duping”, as one of the angry customers above states it, customers on a daily basis. Even Avast’s own forums are rife with complaints, as evidenced here: https://forum.avast.com/index.php?topic=95290.msg760050#msg760050.

Avast was actually called out on this, when their shady business practices were highlighted in an article entitled “Aghast at Avast’s iYogi Support” posted on the popular security based news blog “Krebs on Security” on March 14, 2012. The article can be found here: http://krebsonsecurity.com/2012/03/aghast-at-avasts-iyogi-support/. Mr. Krebs states in this article: “A follow-up investigation by KrebsOnSecurity indicates that Avast (among other security companies) is outsourcing its customer support to a third-party firm that appears engineered to do little else but sell expensive and unnecessary support contracts.”

Krebs concludes his article with: “I’ve frequently recommended AVAST! antivirus software to those seeking a free alternative. But I can’t understand why a company like this would risk its reputation by partnering with a support organization whose sales tactics are practically indistinguishable from those employed by peddlers of fake antivirus software or scareware.”

In immediate response to this blog entry, Avast’s CEO, Vincent Steckler posted a blog entry titled “iYogi support service removed” on March 15, 2012, located at https://blog.avast.com/2012/03/15/iyogi-support-service-removed/. Mr. Steckler writes: “Krebsonsecurity.com, a well-known blog on cybercrime and security issues, highlighted yesterday, at times this model did not work correctly. Instead, iYogi service representatives appear to have attempted to increase sales of iYogi’s premium support packages by representing that user computers had issues that they did not have.”  Mr. Steckler continues: “…we have removed the iYogi support service from our website and shortly it will be removed from our products.”

At first, it seemed like the problem was identified, brought to the attention of the company’s top management, and rectified in the immediate removal of the problem “support” phone number from Avast’s website. Unfortunately, it seems that Avast was simply waiting for the dust to settle, and waited until a later date to relaunch the same scam “support” service, using the exact same or similar techniques that Brian Krebs described as: “practically indistinguishable from those employed by peddlers of fake antivirus software or scareware.” Avast once again has the “Free 24×7 Phone Support” number listed at https://www.avast.com/en-us/support.

This long-running track record of scamming customers is inexcusable. Knowledge of this problem goes all the way to the top of Avast management, right to the CEO, Vincent Steckler. This should be no surprise though, as this doesn’t seem to be Mr. Steckler’s first case of questionable ethical decisions. Read about Mr. Steckler’s past problems in the “Problem CEO” section of this website.