BBB Investigation: Consumers allegedly misled into paying hundreds of dollars for tech support

An Austin-based company that offers PC support allegedly misled its customers by posing as different anti-virus companies and then upselling them into buying alleged unnecessary technical support.

Consumers throughout the U.S. have filed complaints against Volcy Ventures after claiming they reached the business when trying to contact their anti-virus company. BBB learned customers called the company because of the way it used Google AdWords. Volcy Ventures phrased the advertisement that led consumers into believing they were directly dealing with their anti-virus company.

An ad review by BBB verified this by Googling the contact information for various anti-virus companies. BBB found several Google Ads that said “Contact McAfee – Call Our Toll Free Number Now,” “Contact AVG – Call our toll free number today,” “Contact Kaspersky – Call Now on our Toll Free,” “Contact Avast – Call our Toll Free number Now,” and “Contact Norton – Call our Free Number Now.” Each ad contained the phone number to Volcy Ventures.

This confusion led one consumer to believe he was contacting AVG to fix his computer.

“My assumption was that it was AVG and because of that I gave Volcy credibility,” said Ian Elliott.

Elliott, a consumer from Brentwood, Tennessee, said he came back from a trip to China and started having problems with his computer. He immediately called AVG by looking up their contact information through Google.

“I called two or three times and they represented themselves as AVG,” said Elliott. “They said [my computer] had a serious problem. They told me I could go to Microsoft and pay $700 to have it fixed or go to Volcy and fix it for $450 dollars.”

Elliott allowed Volcy Ventures to take control of his computer and was told there were multiple IP address found on his computer. He paid $450 to have a supposed virus removed and also received annual protection from the business. However, Elliott felt something was wrong.

“I became suspicious and thought this had nothing to do with AVG,” said Elliott. “I called another number and AVG told me I had never spoken to them. I feel like I was tricked into believing I was dealing with AVG.”

Elliott received a partial refund of $200.

Another consumer, Jessica Heitzmann, tried to contact McAfee in order to cancel her subscription before it automatically renewed. She unknowingly contacted Volcy Ventures, but believed she was talking to a representative of McAfee.

“They needed me to get on my account but couldn’t because it was on my iPad,” Heitzmann said.

The home computer Heitzmann tried to use in order to supply her account information would continuously not work. At that moment, the alleged McAfee representative told her she would need to be transferred.

“He said he saw the problem, but needed to connect to a Level 7 technician. He was only a Level 3 technician and connected me to Volcy,” Heitzmann said.

Heitzmann was told her firewalls were not working properly and were not activated. Under Heitzmann’s permission, Volcy Ventures took control of the computer. She was charged $1,690 dollars in order to fix the problem. A week later the computer still did not work. After filing a complaint with BBB, Volcy Ventures refunded Heitzmann $1,130.

When BBB contacted Heitzmann, she was unaware she had not contacted McAfee. Heitzmann provided BBB with the number she believed was McAfee’s. However, the 1-844-798-4384 number she dialed is registered with Volcy.

Additionally, Heitzmann called McAfee and was informed no cancellation of her subscription had been submitted.

The company responded to BBB’s complaint concerns by making some modifications to their Google AdWords and indicated that they are always truthful to their customers. They further indicated that customers sign an electronic agreement for the services, which clearly informs the customer about the terms of service and who they are. Volcy generally responds to disputes by indicating that they have reached out to the customer and the issue is now resolved, or by issuing a refund.

The company also responded to BBB’s advertising concerns by initially stating they found nothing wrong with the Google Ads and designed them differently than they are appearing. On October, 20, 2015, BBB attempted to generate Google Ads for the company nationwide. BBBs outside of Texas were able to generate Google Ads for the company which were not appearing in the central Texas area.

However, on December 3, 2015, the business responded to BBB saying they updated Google Ads in the U.S. to include “Support by Volcy Ventures”. BBB continues to be concerned about the company’s misleading Google AdWords.

When looking for tech support for any of your computers, BBB offers these tips:

  • Online searches can be deceiving. Make sure you carefully look at who you’re contacting. Businesses can advertise certain phrases that will cause their company to pop up first on search engines, which can sometimes be confusing. If you want technical support, find the company’s website and look at their contact information. You can also look on your receipt for any listed phone numbers.
  • Be aware of the red flags. Some tech support companies use similar tactics. These include enrolling you in a maintenance or warranty program, asking for credit information to bill you for their services, tricking you into installing malware that could steal sensitive data and directing you to websites in order to obtain your credit card number and other personal information.
  • Be cautious when giving control of your computer to a third party. Allowing a business to take remote control of your computer can open you up to fraud or various malware. Be sure to ask questions, and don’t feel pressured into allowing a third party access to your PC.
  • Protect your personal personal information. Think twice before disclosing your credit card or financial information, especially if you are cold called by a company claiming to be affiliated with an anti-virus company.

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