Dec. 14, I logged on to Norton.com to purchase Norton 360 software upgrading my Internet security. Unable to click on the Website's "Buy Now," I called what I thought was Norton phone number (obtained through a Google listing).
Person answering phone call (sounded like someone from India by the name of Parihar) said he was from Norton and would figure out why I couldn't buy product. He needed to get into my computer first, which I allowed him to do.
Computer screen lit up with various red lines and mindboggling (for the layman) scripts and codes. Parihar said my computer was compromised by international hackers and all my personal computer data could be used by them.
He added that my computer would never be safe again nor any computer I buy in future unless I have my computer cleansed and a firewall installed. Price would be $199.99 for any three computers in my household.
He said he would contact Norton's tech support ITechLine to install this new program; he said Norton was only a supplier of software, but that Itechline was Norton's tech affiliate and that was the company that would do the work and bill me the $199.99.
I was then connected to a female Itechline technician (also in India) who proceeded to install the new program and an Itechline icon on my desktop. The icon listed a phone number I could call for a three month period, if I ran into trouble during that time span.
I was billed $199.99 on my credit card for this service and told to change all my log-ins, passwords, etc. The Itechline technician also installed a Norton360 program on my computer, and charged me $16.99 as a bonus because I had purchased the other program (the Norton360 program on Norton Website was offered at $49.99).
My husband then had his computer analyzed, and similarly was told he had been hacked and required a computer cleansing and firewall installed. When he was asked to also pay $199.99 and he protested saying that the charge included up to 3 computers, he was told that this was not true in this situation.
He was also charged $199.99 on his credit card. The next day, we decided to call Itechline back and again protest the additional $199.99 my husband was charged. The Itechline clerk finally agreed to take the additional $199.99 off my husband's credit card.
Everything seemed to be working OK until evening of Dec. 17. My husband tried to log on to his e-mail on Comcast.net and saw a suspicious message redirecting him to another Website. We called Norton, and this time got a bonafide Norton customer representative on the phone (also from India).
When we told her about Itechline, she said that Itechline is not connected at all to Norton, and that there is no record at Norton indicating that we had a program installed by Itechline for which we paid $199.99 each.
You can understand that both my husband and I were very wary at this point, not knowing whether we were in fact talking to a real Norton staffer. However, after being on the phone with her for some time, we finally felt she was the real deal. She suggested our individual computers be cleansed by a Norton technician who would replace any other programs placed on the computer by Itechline.
Each of our computers were then accessed by an American technician who did the work as promised. We were charged by Norton for the work done a total of $99.98 for the two computers.
The following day, I contacted my credit card company (Visa-Chase Bank) to tell them I was contesting both the $199.99 charged by Itechline for their work and the $16.99 they charged me for the Norton360 program. I was told the matter would be under investigation.
When my husband called his credit card company (Visa-USAA) to inquire whether Itechline had deleted the $199.99 charge for his computer, he was told the charge was still on his credit card. He told them the charge was fraudulent and had his card replaced by a new one.
We are outraged by what happened to us, courtesy of Itechline staffers portraying themselves as a technical arm of Norton. Today is Dec. 21 and for the last several days, I have done little else than make phone calls to all the online banks and other facilities and vendors I have dealt with over the years. I have changed my logins, passwords and my e-mail addresses, not wanting to take any chance with confidential data previously saved on my computer.