So what exactly is Washington’s spyware law? The law “makes it illegal to induce computer users to download software by falsely claiming the software is necessary for security purposes,” according to Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office.
But the company that McKenna’s office investigated didn’t stop there. Its free scan always detected spyware, even on a clean computer (then pitched a $50 software download to remove it). But when tested on a computer infected with spyware, its cleaner failed to detect it. Then the program erased the file needed to store blocked Web addresses, making the computer even more vulnerable.
As a result of the investigation and lawsuit, McKenna reached a $1 million settlement with New York-based Secure Computer to resolve the state’s first spyware case on behalf of the estimated 1,145 state residents who purchased the products Spyware Cleaner and Popup Padlock. More information is here.
Secure Computer has agreed to send information on refunds to its Washington state customers. The message will be titled “Secure Computer, LCC Refund Program.” While that message sounds suspiciously like spam, victims of the spyware scam will need to reply to this email to get their money back.
One last word of advice from McKenna: Ignore requests for personal information when replying to the e-mail. Oh, and if your computer is frozen because of all the viruses Spyware Cleaner allowed in, you can call 1-800-551-4636.