‘Your PC may be infected!’ Inside the shady world of antivirus telemarketing

Scotty Zifka was looking for a sales job. He started one in late May at a company called EZ Tech Support, a small inbound call center in an older building in northeast Portland, Oregon.

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The first day of Zifka’s unpaid training involved listening in on sales calls. But within three hours, Zifka felt something wasn’t quite right.

“Everything about it was so weird,” he recalled.

The company’s 15 agents answer calls from people who’ve seen a pop-up message saying their computer may be having problems, and advising them to call a number, which rings at the offices of EZ Tech Support.

The agents are instructed to stick to a 13-page script. They ask callers whether they have an antivirus program installed. If they do, Zifka said, callers are usually told that whatever they’re using isn’t a “full-time real spectrum virus protection program.”

But the agents have a solution: callers can purchase an antivirus program called Defender Pro Antivirus, from Bling Software.

EZ Tech Support sells a perpetual license for the program for $300. Agents also tell callers they can perform a one-time fix on their computers for them, which starts at $250. Callers can haggle for lower prices.

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Updated: March 23, 2018 — 4:50 pm