Thursday, May 29, 2014

ASK NOT!


I owe an apology to Comcast for “thought crimes” against them. For the past several months, I have suspected them of sending their clients into the lions den where scammers rip their client’s wallets into shreds. I think I was wrong. Yes, people are getting scammed--not by Comcast but by people pretending to be Comcast.

You see, over the past several months, I’ve had many clients tell me that they “called Comcast” to report some problem with internet access. They report that Comcast took remote control of their computer, installed some software and revealed that the computer had all sorts of horrible problems. Comcast wanted to charge them over $200 to fix the problems.

Both of my loyal readers might recall that this sounds eerily like the numerous scam companies that try to sell solutions to non-existent problems. The software may be called SpeedMyPC, PC Optimizer, Advanced SystemCare and MyCleanPC. Many of these snake oil programs are being touted on TV. All of these programs “find” (or invent) tons of problems with your computer and promise to fix the non-existent problems upwards of $200. These programs don’t fix squat.

I’ve been trying to find out who at Comcast has been sending customers to the scammers. Such a practice should be exposed to the world and Comcast should pay a hefty price. Alas, they are innocent. I think. I suspect that what’s really going on is something called the “Ask Toolbar.”

Ask.com is a search engine similar to Google. They started out  about the same time as Google but quickly became a 3rd class citizen in the world of search engines. Ask.com had to take drastic measures to remain relevant. They now attract new customers by bundling their search toolbar with other programs--mainly something called “Java.”

Many of you have noticed the “Java” update on a Windows computer that bugs you for an update about once a month. Java is a bit of software that allows certain web-based programs to run on any computer. When you install the Java update, you are also offered a chance to install the Ask toolbar. You should uncheck that selection. If you don’t, Ask.com will become your default search engine and that will open you up to being a victim of a scam.


You see, reputable search engines such as Google and Bing generally filter-out companies with a bad reputations so if you search for “Comcast Support number” the first few listings will actually be the real support portal for Comcast. However, when you perform the same search at Ask.com, you will be directed to the scammy companies that have paid Ask to advertise them. These companies tout themselves as “official” Comcast support specialists. The “real” numbers for Comcast are way down the list. So I suspect that some of my less attentive clients are searching for “Comcast” at Ask.com, calling that “official” number and getting taken advantage of.

4 comments:

Cindy Traisi said...

You misspelled relevant. I'm just saying.

Cindy Traisi said...

You misspelled relevant.

Jay in W.Cola. said...

That's irrelevant, and a little irreverent.

Jim Fisher said...

Crap.