14
Mar 12

Aghast at Avast’s iYogi Support

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The makers of Avast antivirus software are warning users about a new scam involving phone calls from people posing as customer service reps for the company and requesting remote access to user systems. Avast is still investigating the incidents, but a number of users are reporting that the incidents followed experiences with iYogi, the company in India that is handling Avast’s customer support.

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.

Adam Riley, Avast’s third party support manager, wrote in a post on the company’s blog that “during the past week or so, we have received some complaints and it appears that some of our customers are being targeted by a new scam.  Luckily only a handful of customers have contacted us regarding this so far, but they report receiving phone calls from ‘Avast customer service’ reps who need to take control of their computer to resolve some issue and who, for a fee, wish to charge them for this privilege.”

I’d first heard about the issue when a reader wrote in to say he’d received complaints from his clients about calls from someone claiming to represent Microsoft and requesting remote access to user computers to help troubleshoot computer problems.

I decided to investigate iYogi myself, and created a fresh installation of Windows XP on my Mac, using the free virtual machine from Virtualbox. I wanted to see whether I, too, would receive follow-up sales pitches. I also wanted to see for myself if there was anything to the claims on Avast’s user forum that iYogi was using support requests to push expensive “maintenance and support” packages.

A call to the support number listed on Avast’s site put me through to a technician named Kishore Chinni; I told Mr. Chinni that I had just installed a copy of Avast, but that I couldn’t be certain it was updating correctly. He asked for a phone number and an email address, and then said the first thing he needed to do was take remote control over my system. He directed me to use Internet Explorer to visit a Web site that requested permission to install two ActiveX add-ons. Those add-ons installed a remote control client called Bomgar Support.

Chinni asked if I had previously installed any antivirus software, and I said I wasn’t sure (I hadn’t). He then fired up the Windows Registry Editor (regedit), poked around some entries, and then opened up the Windows System Configuration Utility (msconfig) and the Windows Event Viewer. Chinni somberly read aloud a few of the entries in the event viewer marked with yellow exclamation points, saying they were signs that my computer could have a problem. He then switched over to the “services” panel of the system configuration tool and noted that the “manufacturer” listing next to avast! antivirus read “unknown.”

“When it says unknown like that, these are warnings that there could be an infection running on the computer,” Chinni explained. He proceeded to install an iYogi “tune up” tool called PCDiagnostics, which took about 60 seconds to complete a scan of my system. The results showed that my brand new installation of Windows had earned a 73% score, and that it had to detected 17 registry errors and a problem with Windows Update (this was unlikely, as I had already enabled Windows Update and Automatic Updates before I made the support call, and had installed all available security patches). Chinni explained that the “antispyware” warning generated by the PCDiagnostics scan was an indication that a previously installed security software program had not been cleanly removed and was probably causing problems with my computer.

He said another technician could help me with these problems if I wanted. When I inquired whether it would be free, Chinni told me that the company sells support packages for one- to three-year durations, and that the starting price for a support package was $169.99.

I politely declined the offer, but said he still hadn’t helped me resolve the question that prompted my support call: Was Avast updating correctly? Here’s what he told me:

“Avast is going to take time. It’s going to take one week’s time to update. There is a problem on the Avast itself. The reason is there is a problem on the Avast free. If you [garbled] the free, you wait a week for the updates. If you pay for it, it can be done.”

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.” What’s more, iYogi’s implied response to my initial support request was to inform me that Avast’s free software wasn’t working, and that in order to be fully protected against the latest malware threats, I needed to upgrade to the paid version of the software.

Update March 15, 8:36 a.m. ET: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that iYogi also provides official third party support for AVG.

Update, March 15, 10:34 a.m. ET: Citing my investigation, Avast CEO Vincent Steckler just posted a blog entry saying Avast will suspend its support relationship with iYogi.

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135 comments

  1. Brian Fiori (AKA The Dean)

    Recently a client of mine was nearly scammed by iYogi. She had a little issue with her HP printer and Googled “HP Support”. She mistakenly clicked an iYogi paid search result labeled “HP Support”

    From there things went much the same as Brian K’s experience. Remote logon, diagnostic tool showing many errors, etc. But get this, they told her the problem was Avast, and that she would need to install a commercial version of Norton (through iYogi of course) as that was the only AV compatible with HP printers. They wanted to charge her close to $300 for this service.

    Luckily she called me before moving forward. After a quick settings adjustment to fix the printer, I had to uninstall the garbage iYogi installed and check to make sure her PC wasn’t compromised. Poor little old lady was so shaken by the experience I waived the fee for the call.

    It is a very unfortunate trend that otherwise terrific companies like Avast, Avira, Comodo, etc. are getting involved in partnerships with companies know for questionable tactics (I’m being kind here). But maybe Avast will wake up if they know the same company supplying their support is telling customers they must dump Avast and install Norton.

    • Brian

      I am ‘somewhat’ confused by your post, in that I do not use Norton but I recently upgraded from a Lexmark to an HP Printer, so far without any issues.

      • Bruce– that part was a complete and utter lie on the part of iYogi. As long as it is a reputable AV, it will have nothing to do with what kind of printer you can install and run.

        • Troy,

          I can’t fathom why an iYogi technician would ever try to install any AV for an issue with a printer. This seems extremely unlikely. Besides we do not have a partnership with Norton for reselling their software. If Brian can request the customer to share her full name with me on vishal [at] iyogi [dot] com, I would get my Active Response Team to find out what really happened there. In terms of efficiency and usefulness of our services, we would request everyone to visit our Facebook page- http://www.facebook.com/iYogi. You would be able to see the recommendations and positive reviews.

          • Hi Vishal,
            I was replying to Bruce’s post above. I don’t think Bruce’s comment or question had anything to do with iYogi. I was merely correcting him that his AV choice would have no impact on his choice of printers working properly.

            That being said, I’ve seen AV mess with a printer install before (*cough* McAfee *cough*) but I’ve never heard of a reputable AV causing someone to have to pick one printer over another for compatibility reasons.

            If I misunderstood, I welcome Bruce’s response.

  2. I’ve heard a lot of av companies are outsourcing their support to sites like this. Are there any reputable support sites that these companies can turn to?

  3. Support.com is bad, it’s owned or run by the scammers that have been running the CyberDefender garbage for years…..all the stupid ads you hear for “DoubleMySpeed” or “MyCleanPC” or “FinallyFast.com” or whatever…..all leads back to them or an affiliate of some kind.

    Companies shouldn’t turn to support sites in the first place. They should have a basic level in house support staff to answer questions for their own software, whether or not it’s security software or any kind of software.

    From what I understood of iYogi, I didn’t think actual companies outsourced their tech support to them, I thought iYogi was a standalone company that anyone could call for help instead of taking their computer into a Best buy or local store for help, and they offered their remote support service…..but after seeing this it makes the Geek Squad seem reasonable LOL.

    • Actually, CyberDefender is NOT associated with Support.com. Although the services provided are similar there is no partnership between the two companies.

    • CyberDefender, FinallyFast.com and the company that puts out all the scamware PC ‘optimization’ products have nothing to do with support.com. Support.com is a remote technical support company that resolves issues with computers and does not sell crapware such as PC Registry Optimizer or some other equally useless program.

  4. Honestly the iYogi support seems pretty standard for your canned, read-from-a-script tech support that all our American based jobs have gone too….this is the level of quality I have experienced every time I’ve had the misfortune of calling HP, Dell, Linksys, Netgear, Asus, Gigabyte, etc, etc.

    Now iYogi is overpriced, but all these services are overpriced in the first place. I mean he is a person in India who can read and understand probably elementary school level English, so he can follow basic directions, he’s reading items off a script, so of course he’s not an actual technician, he’s had the basic level of training, and the “problems” we all know are just cookies or whatever…..but of course due to the script reading, the canned response is the Free version of Avast may take longer to update, to make sure it has “Automatic Updating” upgrade to the paid version…blah blah blah.

    • That’s the impression I got as well, it’s a guy reading from a script and making guesses at what the issue could be. I’ve had similar types of (outsourced) “support” from well-known companies, with the only real difference being that the guessing is perhaps a bit more polished.

  5. Ack! And here I’ve been using and recommending Avast! to people.

    Time to go back to Avira?

    • I wouldn’t be so quick to blame Avast, as many other freeware companies point to similar if not the same services. I’ve never been let down by Avast, but it got in a fight with the DRM in a update to my Cyberlink PowerDVD 10. The firewall in Avast got KOD by this action, and I got the same treatment Brian wrote about – except they saw all the secure utilities and settings I had and decided to back out. I asked him, “what about the original problem?” All I got was the run around to pay the #169.** dollars for a yearly service if I wanted any thing actually done.

      I simply ran REVO uninstaller on Avast – reinstalled it, and everything but my ability to come out of sleep has worked fine. I’ve struggled with DRM on my OEM cable ready system for three years and I’ve learned that is the first punishment for doing anything on you own – IAA jerks your shorts and disables the sleep mode. I guess they want to spy on you 24/7, and don’t like you to go to sleep after a conflict with anything on your PC. I’ve tried everything on the web to fix this issue except reinstall the operating system, and no luck fixing the issue. I’ve already reinstalled the operating system 5 times before on other DRM issues, I’m not going to do it again, if I can help it.
      I agree that Avast should dump this idea; but many of the reputable freeware companies do the same thing.

  6. Brian,
    Thanks for this post! We need more investigative journalists like you. Unfortunately, I’m sure your experience mirrors thousands of others who fell for the scam.

    I’ve always had a hunch that “free” antivirus software had a hidden cost somewhere… even though I’ve used and recommended Avast Home Edition myself in the past.

    Right now I’m using NOTHING as my antivirus at home. We all login and surf the web (and do online banking) using a restricted account. We rely on Google Chrome which is installed under the that account, AdBlock, Secunia PSI, and I scan everything I download with VirusTotal.com before I open it. I don’t run Windows Firewall either. My router is my firewall, and it is programmed to use OpenDNS’s name servers. Finally, we generally stay on sites of good reputation, and avoid the darker sides of the web.

    It’s a risky setup, but I’m willing to accept the risk. I may change in the future, but my decision is largely based on my experience with AV products. It just seems like it was consuming tons of resources searching for known malware. The only thing I miss is the lightweight proxy server that alerts me to any (again, *known*) malicious URLs I might be unknowingly accessing. The only thing I feel like we’re vulnerable to is a zero-day Chrome exploit, which AV software isn’t going to save us from anyway.

    • If you would run CCleaner occasionally on that standard account, you might just get away with that. However – I wouldn’t do any online shopping or banking on that machine! I would at least run the built-in AV/AM solutions.

      Also – be sure to keep your applications and operating system up to date; I’ve found it more and more difficult to run my honey pot lab on IE9 since they put all the safeties in the browser. It is pretty hard to catch some Zeus servers or sites that get by those protections, believe it or not. You can still be pwned, but it is getting more difficult for the criminals.

      • Thanks for the tip. Yes, we clear cookies and sessions every time we close the browser. And Secunia PSI keeps OS and apps up to date.

        Maybe I’m only asking for trouble. One definition of a web browser is a powerful platform/toolset available for hackers to use to launch attacks against your computer/data.

        • Thats great Jonathon. CCleaner is a lttle more thorough especially in LSOs or Zombie files as they’ve been known. You have more threats in your temporary files also. But you probably already set the cleaner for that.

          CCleaner can also see unwanted programs that the regular Microsoft Programs and Features can realize. It may not be as through as Revo Uninstaller, but it is one of the best for being safer to use.

          As I said before, a test/researcher has to work a little harder now to get things past the IE9 browser than before. It still happens with some zero day threats/URLS/ etc.; but the threat profile is lowered.

  7. Frankly, for personal use, I don’t see why anyone would use anything other than Microsoft Security Essentials now.

    • why not run both? free AV is free AV, you get what you pay for.

      When one AV blocks something, but the other AVs miss it, you’ll see why SE is not the end-all of security.

      DNS firewall should prevent you from getting to a malicious site in the first place, since all the browsers don’t accept malware for blocking (yet).

      • Running two AV products is a bad idea due to the low level nature of the applications apart from anything else like resource use.

        The old adage of “you get what you pay for” definitely does not apply in the sphere of AV products. For example MSSE was ranked second overall (losing only to Kaspersky AV) last I looked at an AV-tests report. Tens of non-free competitors were ranked far lower than MSSE and other free AVs.

        You’re correct that MSSE is not the be all and end all of security – but then no AV is so it’s hardly a fair criticism. In any case new malicious software is tested against a barrage of popular AV applications to ensure they’re not detected upon release into the wild.

        Also DNS blocking, just like any AV, cannot protect you until the malicious page or executable is added to the list of objects to block.

        • I can only say the there is only one paid solution that is worth it for the average user, and that is Emisoft’s Anti-malware; preferably included in a suite with Online Armor – their award winning firewall.

          The real threats today that can truly do financial damage to you are malware related and not so much virus related. If you just have no budget at all, I always recommend Avast paired with AdAware or Spybot Search and Destroy. These two are part of the few who offer real time protection on standard accounts. Even the paid solutions don’t generally do that, if at all. WinPatrol is pretty good at warning against startup injections, but cannot stop them – I don’t know how good it can resist manipulation by the malware.

          Now if you start talking about banking online, I have a list of good free solution to fight crime, but I won’t go their without prompting. BTW- I am not affiliated with any company at all – I just hate IT crime.

          Hey! You can do pretty good for free, even now a days! :)

  8. I’ve spent some time researching these kinds of phone scams – and once actually did the same as you did: got them to ‘play around’ with a Windows VM and took screen shots while they were doing that. I actually got through the payment phase (I was lucky enough that my made-up credit card number was accepted – I got the checksum right by accident) and they did make some halfhearted attempts to fix the computer. Grossly overpriced and they lied several times about why there were problems — they used the same Event Viewer trick that you describe above — but they did do some things that could have made my computer run better. So an 80% scam rather than a 100% one. The iYogi one is just one small step more legitimate it seems.

    • That has been my experience pretty much! However I used a honey pot lab computer and not a VM. I figure a junk computer is easily sacrificed.

  9. Thanks for investigating this matter. I’m not any kind of avast! official (or employee), but as long year avast! follower, supporter and beta tester, we (me and other users of the same kind) have warned avast! staff about iYogi’s questionable business methods and how they make avast! look bad because of it. And seeing the pattern of iYogi’s operation, it’s always the same.

    First the make a remote connection, then they made up some non-existing errors and problems, they ignore the initial and actual problem or question and then they try to sell the caller their ridiculously expensive service.

    After talking with Adam Riley, the main reason they stick with iYogi seems to be offloading the weight of support requests for trivial issues like how to disable voice notifications. Or other similar trivial stuff. Because with 150 million users, i suspect you get a lot of such questions daily…

    It’s really hard to draw a line between having offloaded support and the fact that you’re running it with a company (iYogi) with strange business practices. I mean, there has to be a better way?
    There are free forums but then again not all feel like it to register yet again just to access it. We try to help users round the clock free of charge and we never try to sell anything to them.

    I agree, iYogi’s behavior and business practices are throwing a bad light on flawless AVAST Software track record from the past. And we all know it’s easier to ruin your reputation than to gain or mend it after things go south.

    Anyway, we’ll discuss this matter in depth for sure, because frankly i don’t like iYogi either. I haven’t used their services but seeing how they operate, it’s hard for me to just watch avast! ruining their great reputation.

    • Clearly their plan to outsource support to cheap overseas labor is having a negative impact on their reputation by allowing a third party company to bilk their customers.

    • There are better support service than that though. I was once sent to a service where you could hire individuals by reputation score, kind of like going to ebay. I got some of the best IT work I’ve ever seen that way.

      I was just a one hit charge, no contracts. I believe it was associated with , or linked to by Lavasoft. I can’t remember the name.

  10. Does anybody know what external company-ies Earthlink uses, since I always found their support to be fairly good, especially if you had the phone numbers for say level 3 or 4 support?

  11. I previously used the free version of avast! for several years, but switched to MSE over a year ago as the primary resident AV on all my computers. I’m certainly glad I did — thanks for the story, Brian!

    I still do weekly manual scans after MSE’s auto-scheduled full scan with Malwarebytes, SuperAntiSpyware, Kaspersky’s TDSS Killer, and Panda Cloud AV though, just to make sure nothing’s gotten through the layered shield.

  12. Some AV companies have been plagued by fake support companies for years – I’ve been writing about it for at least a couple of years, and first came across it when Indian scammers were reported as installing cracked or trial-only ESET software as part of the scam.

    However, it looks as if Avast! have had the misfortune to tie in with a company that is quite happy to play the same game as eFix, Comantra, guruaid et al ad nauseam. Microsoft had a similar experience with a partner a while ago. Bad news for victims, Avast! and the rest of the industry. :(

  13. I’ve recommended Avast! to dozens of people over the years and run it on numerous systems at home. It sounds like it’s time to dump Avast, or at least never recommend it again. I realize it’s a third-party, but as long as they’re continuing to do business with this third party they are accepting the responsibility for these scams and I won’t support them one bit.

    • Well, there is no need to over react to things. avast! is still a great antivirus and dumping it because someone else had bad experience with 3rd party support with it, is a bit extreme. You can still get free support on forums in the meanwhile and you can still contact official avast! support directly. It’s just that the phone support is for now tied with iYogi (for now).

      • You seem like a genuine person out to help AVAST! users because you believe in the product but I would have to respectfully disagree with you.

        Users complaining and continuing to use a product is essentially a win for the company concerned (in this case AVAST!) – nothing hurts a company like people moving to a competitors product – thats a potential customer gone.

        The more people that do this the less likely it is that AVAST! will continue in the same manner that led to this idiocy. Yes it’s a third-party issue: this does not mean the responsibility is not entirely with AVAST!. Who do you think appointed the third party?

        I am not an AVAST! user but this incident would make me seriously consider changing if I was.

        • I agree with your assessment Neej; to a point. However I still think Avast is the best free AV going, and still recommend it to budget users. However, I always do the support for them, no need to go to Avast in the first place. I never usually use support services by freeware companies anyway. It is usually a bad idea no matter who is offering it.

          Lavasoft is one of the few exceptions, but they make it clear that they are not associated with the independent services they point to on their site. So there is more transparency this way. I wished Avast would pony up and do the same. It really does hurt the company.

          Avast has been in business since 1988 and almost since the inception of personal computing, and the internet itself – they owe it to their selves to guard that reputation.

  14. I’ve recommended Avast! and AVG free versions in the past, but will now clarify that such are recommended as either “self-supported” or “no support” solutions.

    Regarding the support, I guess you get what you pay for, so to speak.

    I agree with the recommendation to use MS Essentials. Not bad for a free solution.

    • Brian Fiori (AKA The Dean)

      All of these are pretty good products. IMO Avast is still the best, followed closely by Avira. MSE is a reasonable option, too.

      As you note, these free products are without real support. (There are support forums and FAQs and such at the providers’ site.) I will continue to use them for my clients (when it makes sense) as I do the installation and typically the maintenance.

      Again, I think using these sleazy partners is a bad idea, particularly for a security company. But there is no need to rush to get rid of Avast because of this report. If you have the free version of Avast, neither Avast nor iYogi should have your phone number so cannot solicit you. Just don’t bother with calling support, as you know the free product does not come with any real free support.

      • Actually according to the last AV-tests.org I looked at AVG is not a good product at all in comparison to MSSE, AVAST or Avira.

        In my own experience (this should be treated as one persons experience and nothing else) AVG is terrible as far as throwing up false positives is concerned and must be quite confusing to say the least to someone less familiar with computers etc.

        • Brian Fiori (AKA The Dean)

          I don’t really like or use AVG either. It was a terrific product several years ago, but has grown into a bit of a beast. It also doesn’t fare particularly well in the AV tests, as you note.

          So I agree with your opinion.

          • Avast will leave some opossum files in the temp folders, as long as they stay there and don’t DO anything! This is why they get bad press from the AV testers. But in my experience these files will never hurt you anyway, especially if you run as a non administrator; and besides, viruses are not the real threat anymore as far as I’m concerned. One must pair Avast with a good anti-malware to truly have a defense anyway.

            I”ve seen Avast pound unknown files into submission because they tried to take over the operating system(XP Pro SP3). I simply left them in quarantine until the definitions caught up with the malicious file, and then destroyed them.

            When you base your heuristics on BEHAVIOR – you are bound to have some leftover files shlepping in your temp folders waiting for someone to make a mistake. I personally trust Avast before many others that are VIRUS based and not claiming to be a do all for virus/anti-malware.

            I was pretty tickled today because CNET finally had to pony up and admit that Avast 7 was probably the best free AV going for 2012 – and I readily agree!

  15. Brian
    I am the co-founder and president marketing for iYogi. It is unfortunate that your experience with us left this negative impression. This incident by no means reflects our business philosophy or sales practices. I will personally audit your interaction to see if there was any miss-information provided by the technician, and appropriate action will be taken.

    Your statement that links iYogi to a scam, run by people who represent themselves from popular software and hardware vendors is incorrect. On the contrary we have also been a victim of this scam and received complaints from consumers, who have received calls on our behalf. We have been actively investigating these scams, and have also engaged a third-party company for assisting us with this.

    I also want to clarify that we do not work with AVG, as stated in your post.

    As an independent remote tech support company, we market our services directly to customers and also work with partners. We assist our partner’s customers by providing support for their products. We use this service experience and up-sell our tech support services, where the support requirement is outside the defined scope, agreed with our partners.

    We have millions of subscribers and our customer satisfaction rates are amongst the highest in the industry; audited by a third party (I would be happy to share the details, if you are interested). We currently deploy more than 5000 tech experts and have built this business in the past five years on the strength of our customer referrals and service experience.

    Thank you for your interest in iYogi. I am available for any questions or clarifications.

    Best

    Vishal Dhar
    President Marketing – iYogi

    • Brian Fiori (AKA The Dean)

      Vishal, is this your company’s URL?

      http://www.iyogi.net/8676040/hp/?gclid=CJGY5_Oi564CFYwj7AodJmlEjg

      This is what resolves when I clicked on the paid search result labeled “Online HP® Support – Call HP Experts 1 (877) 867 6041″ and shows the URL as “hp-support.iyogi.net/”

      If so, this is the site my client used as described in my comment above. She took copious notes. IMO there is really no doubt she was a near-victim of a support scam, perpetrated by those at the above URL. If this is not iYogi’s site, but one that has been compromised, I apologize.

      But if this is your actual URL and paid Google search listing, I have to question the ethics of your “business philosophy”. The details of the documented support call aside, the listing reflects a conscious attempt to trick users into clicking on your link. The URL listed in the search result is not the resulting URL. “HP_Support” as the lead in the description could lead one to believe they are actually reaching HP’s official support. There is no mention of a fee anywhere.

      Hardly what I would call an honest and straightforward approach.

      Based on the details of the support calls discussed here (both Brian K’s and my customers) the customer called iYogi, not the other way around. How is it that iYogi that is the victim here? Are your calls being intercepted?

      • Brian
        Yes, this landing page belongs to the company. As a vendor independent third-party service we support multiple technologies and brands. This page is branded as iYogi and clearly states, “Support for HP by iYogi”, along with our company attributes. It also provides a disclaimer that states that we are an Independent services provider of remote tech support and not affiliated with the brand. The display URL also has iYogi in the url.

        In our attempt to create a third-party service we have tried to position ourselves as the alternative to traditional support options. I take this feedback from your client constructively to re-look if the search creatives are not doing that job.

        The scam referred by Brian has nothing to do with marketing creatives or our calls being intercepted; it is a prevalent phone scam, where people make outbound calls to consumers as representatives of popular brands including ours and try and sell them something.

        Thanks,

        Vishal

        • “A call to the support number listed on Avast’s site put me through to a technician”

          Perhaps I’m wrong but the article suggests Brian rang iYogi directly where a “technician” proceeded to attempt to carry out fraudulent behaviour.

          • Personally I think there are a few rotten apples in the company that are perpetrating this scam; wouldn’t be the first time this happened to an innocent company.

        • Dear Mr. Dhar,
          don’t get me wrong, I’m fascinated with your business model and how you adopt to globalisation, but if you’re true to yourself there’s just marginal difference from taking remote control over peoples systems after paid search results, tricking them into a support package and those outbound calls doing same things: paying for customer data and tricking them into a support package?! – Since Einstein we know for sure human stupidity is infinite… and referring to the U.S. since last century may I add: it’s rising! (Btw: how about a debt counselling service line… let’s say $169.99 a year – you could name it iYogi.plus? – Got dept? Get iYogi.plus! …bet that could earn some big bucks! ;-P)

        • So… You’re offering technical support for companies without being warranted and/or contracted to do so in the first place..?

          Classy. If you’re as “honest” as you say your business practices are, then your support reps should at least tell the end user, “we’re not affiliated with ___, and therefore, any modifications that we make to the software or your system aren’t going to be covered by the actual vendor.”

          In reality, the $169.99 support package that you’re “up-selling” only causes more made up problems than before. That’s a great, underhanded selling technique Mr. Dhar. I can clearly see that you have little to no ethics whatsoever, and you may in fact be legally retarded throughout the world.

          I am looking forward to your company’s demise at some point in the future.

        • Indarapatra@Suleiman

          Mr. Dhar I would agree with Neej for pointing out that Mr. Krebs dialled iYogi’s number and not the other way around. Thus the scam has something to do with your marketing creatives.

          There are other 3rd-party-support-providers(Outsourced) out there that handle different brands of computers but do not push 3rd-party security softwares for the customer to purchase just to get additional revenue.

          In fact, I had one experience where they had me download FREE versions of Anti-Malware/Spyware programs in to my computer and told me I can get full protection if I buy licensed versions of these programs. I did a research and found out that surely, MalwareBytes and SuperAntiSpyWare as well as Kaspersky and ESET NOD32 are products that are not associated with the tech-support company nor with themselves. The tech/agent even gave me websites/forums that provide info for different AVs and anti-Malware/Spywares so that I can choose the program suited for my rig.
          (They were doing remote assistance but had me directly download the programs from their respective websites to make sure that I will not get any drive-by downloads/installations of Crapwares in to my system)

    • The top paid result for Microsoft Customer service is:

      microsoft-customer-help.iyogi.net/

      Are you paid by Microsoft to handle their customer support?

      Should I do more searches that show you as the top result for companies you have no connection with?

      Should I sent you the bills I have for customers whose computers where fried by your techs when they thought they were talking to Microsoft?

      • o_0

        In fairness, that is not the top result when I search for what you describe. There are plenty of other companies moving in on this keyword search as well.

        • != … .oO(and maybe Google is selective in presenting paid results?) :-]

          • Form choked my angle quotes, so I try again, sry:

            {top _paid_ result} != {top result} … .oO(and maybe Google is selective in presenting paid results?) :-]

  16. It’s funny that Iyogi always wants to connect first and then give you a price. They also do not have a refund in place and there are tons of horror stories of what their “tech experts” have done on the internet :(

    I have only come across one or two companies that actually provide good support and *gasp* a refund guarantee if they don’t fix it.

  17. I get clients who end up talking to these guys by mistake all the time. They will pretend they are any company including M$. Even once you pay the insane fees they have no clue what they are doing, the pc’s end up in my shop with an OS that is trashed.

  18. Jerrold Peterson

    Not long ago Dell in India called me to say my Inspiron 1580 had a problem. They would be happy to look into it and they took control of two of my newish Dells. Used a third party scan and found abou 1700 errors on one and about 500 in the second. Said their tech service would charge $239 for all three (I have a HP PC too). After his fiddling around over 30 minutes the job was done. He showed me how to use something called iolo System Mechanics which he had installed.
    Next day I checked my Visa only to find a total of $368.95 so I called. I was charged $129.95 for System Mechanics (never was I told I had bought any such thing) and the $239 was for the contract with Dell fabulous support (four calls for one year). I told him I never heard the word insurance in any discussion. Long story short…nine phone calls and more than four hours they finally reversed the charges in two transactions. I believe I have seven 800 phone numbers on my pad to contact one department after another. Of course, I knew I had been taken…thank to Dell for supplying them with my data. I would go without a computer before I bought from Dell!

    • What struck me about your comments was that Dell in India initiated the call, and apparently knew about your ownership of Dell computers. It would be really interesting to hear from Dell about all this. Maybe Brian K. might like to take on this potentially very interesting challenge.

    • Are you sure it was Dell? The third party scan could have also installed keylogers and the Like. IMO i wouldn’t do banking on your New dells anymore.

      • Jerrold Peterson

        Sorry to be so slow in replying but had a cataract removed this morning. Yes, it was Dell calling me at home. And it was Dell that showed on my Visa bill. And it was Dell that credited over two entries and seven days my credit.
        They sold me (a naive person to be sure) an insurance policy for software (I never heard the words “insurance” or “software” during the pitch) as well as System Mechanics by iolo. Again no mention of what System Mechanic is purported to do for one.
        Oddly, after so many calls to India to various numbers they were keen to supply, they relented on the System Machanic fairly easily. I should have thought they had to have paid for from that real company? But the totally unneeded and illy described insurance was really difficult. When I explain that I had a complaint form in another window to fill out for the Federal Trade Commission I finally got their attention. I said as Dell was a Texas company and I lived in California they had deliberately violated interstate laws.
        With all this I am happy enough with Microsolf Security Essential on three units. I used Avast for about three years some time back and was satisfied for the most part. And so far no key-logger has run off with my money…yet.

  19. We recently recorded on Video and sound, a rep claiming that our brand new virtual drive has 277 infections and we too saw the fack registry deal. These guys are pro’s and on commission in India, in which they make more in a week that most people in india make in a year

  20. I understand that both Microsoft and HP use IYOGI’s services also, that’s if you can call it a “service”

  21. As others have indicated, just another reason to recommend MSE to friends, family and even one very small business client (fewer than 10 machines).

    • Thx, but I stay with Kaspersky Internet Security 2012… until at least 2013, when I pay for another year of good service. ;-P

  22. Hi,

    The “Event Viewer” tricks are exactly the same trick pulled buy the cold-call “Microsoft” scammers (sometimes identified as “Technical Support” or “Support Desk”).

    That any supposedly reputable company such as Avast or AVG would have anything to do with this type of shady (or probably illegal) operation is beyond belief.

    Are their business and revenue models that poor they have to outsource their support to incompetent scammers to make any money?

    Regards

    Simon

  23. Event Viewer isn’t the only con support scammers use, btw: google support scam + assoc/clsid, prefetch or inf :-/

  24. I recommend MS Security Essentials these days. It’s lightweight (I’ve read reviews that say otherwise, but compared to the normal commercial options it doesn’t seem to get in the way at all), it’s free, it integrates into the normal update process and so far it’s done the job. It’s probably the only bit of MS software I actually like…

    • I have to strongly disagree. MSE is the one program made my Microsoft that I have been the most disappointed with. I had iyt on the Vista machine here for a while and when it worked it was okay. Heavy on resources and slow on scanning, but okay. The problems came when a new version was available and I went to upgrade. Both times there was an upgrade available the same thing happened. The process would hang up after partially uninstalling and deactivating the older version, leaving the machine with no working protection at all. The only way to fix things was to manually complete the uninstallation of the old version by deleting files and folders, cleaning up the registry, with CCleaner and Auslogics, rebooting, and then downloading and installing the new MSE version. After the second instance, I switched to Avast and have never had a problem. This iYogi fiasco , while regrettable, is no reflection on the quality and effectiveness of the avast! product. It is still the best free solution by far and I liked it so much that I have upgraded to the full Avast Internet Security package.

  25. I would just like to inform the author of a factually incorrect statement in his article. I have had it officially confirmed that AVG DO NOT use iYogi as their support provider.

    The article has caused a fair amount of banter on Twitter and I would suggest correcting this ASAP.

  26. This story is very similar to one Neil Rubenking at PCMAG.com wrote about Symantec’s support back in 2009.

    Symantec Support Gone Rogue

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2342634,00.asp

    • They got it right. As of 2010 I noticed a great improvement in both Symantec quality and service. I still don’t recommend it, but I have to admit it is one of the better AV for clients that need a bit of hand holding. I only recommend it to my clients who are extremely short on patience and totally computer illiterate.

  27. There’s also some circumstatial evidence that somebody at iYogi is using the Dell customer database to make scam calls:

    http://forum.avast.com/index.php?topic=85235.msg693279#msg693279

    These are cold calls initiated from India, rather than by the customer.

    There have been reports of dubious practice by iYogi on the avast! for more than six months.

    • This is an outrageous and unsubstantiated accusation and request you to be more responsible and restrained while stating your opinions. These kind of scam calls have been plaguing the IT industry for some time using names of companies like Microsoft, HP, PC World, etc., and we at iYogi have also been victims with scam calls being made using our name.

      • While I am inclined to agree with Vishal’s statement about reputable companies’ names being used to perpetrate scams, I would remind him that in the scenario detailed in this blog post, Brian Krebs INITIATED the call to support.

        Not even my greenest, junior tech would call what the tech did (looking at msconfig, the event viewer, etc.) or his so-called “results” up front or honest.

  28. Looks like the guys at iYogi have threatened all their employees and made them come here to give a “thumbs down” to any comment which reflects negatively on their company.

    Nobody is fooled by your underhanded attempts, guys. You’ve made your bed lumpy and now you have to sleep in it.

    • Right on Dave!! Huzzah!

    • Indarapatra@Suleiman

      Spot on!!!

      I’ve noticed too that posts that are “hidden due to low comment rating” are those that give logical dispute to Mr. Dhar’s statements.

      @Vishal Dhar: Brian Krebs is not accusing your company of scamming here. He made an investigation and found out that it is so. He is just stating FACTS…

  29. I also find this very hard to believe, that how Avast could tie up with such a company; I am myself from India and atleast in my IT circle, iYogi is known as a scam site.

    • Sid I’m sure the diameter of your IT circle is very narrow that is why you are unaware about Iyogi and it’s reputation. Iyogi has provided support to millions of customers and is the best in business. If you check http://www.bbb.org/new-york-city/Business-Reviews/computers-software-and-services/iyogi-inc-in-new-york-ny-99062/complaints this particular link there are 121 complaints registered against Iyogi in Better Business Bureau and considering the fact that they served millions based on 121 complaints you can’t rate an organisation as a scam.
      AVAST has admitted the fact that they have added 30M customers in a single year as a result of support provided by Iyogi.
      Judging an organisation on the basis of 1 odd experience is totally absurd and pointless.

      • Maybe you folks at iYogi should realize that just because you serve “millions of customers” (your numbers, not mine as I don’t believe that), doesn’t mean it won’t be noticed when you try to scam people out of money.

        Reputations are very hard to build and very easy to lose, as you folks are about to learn.


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