Symantec Accused of Selling ‘Scareware’ in Consumer Fraud Suit in San Jose

Symantec Corp. (SYMC), a computer security software maker, uses free diagnostic programs to fraudulently induce customers to buy its products with claims their computers are in danger, a consumer alleged in a lawsuit.

Washington state consumer James Gross said in his suit that Symantec’s programs’ diagnosis invariably results in consumers being told they need to purchase the company’s products to address identified risks to their machines.

“The truth, however, is that the scareware does not actually perform any meaningful evaluation of the user’s computer system,” and the remedial software doesn’t function as advertised, Gross alleged in a complaint filed today in San Jose, California by Chicago lawyer Jay Edelson.

The case, which seeks group, or class action, status on behalf of all consumers who have bought Symantec’s PC Tools Registry Mechanic, PC Tools Performance Toolkit and Norton Utilities.

Accusing the company of fraudulent inducement, breach of contract and violation of California’s unfair competition law, Gross is also seeking unspecified money damages.

Symantec is based in Mountain View, California. Lori Cross and Cris Paden, spokesmen for the company, didn’t immediately reply to voice mail messages seeking comment on the complaint.

The case is Gross v. Symantec Corp., 12-cv-154, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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