IDG News Service - Antivirus vendors Symantec and McAfee have each agreed to pay the New York Attorney General's office $375,000 in fines to settle charges that they automatically charged customers software subscription renewal fees without their permission.
Investigators found that the two companies had "failed to adequately disclose to consumers that subscriptions would automatically be renewed and that consumers would be charged," the office of Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday announcing the settlement. "Companies cannot play hide the ball when it comes to fees consumers are being charged."
In addition to paying the settlement fine, Symantec and McAfee will now make better disclosures about subscription renewal fees when customers sign up, the attorney general's office said.
Security companies have been offering automatic renewals to their customers for nearly a decade now, but in the past few year it's become much more common in the antivirus industry. McAfee and Symantec say that they prevent customers from having out-of-date antivirus software on their computers. That may make customers safer, but it also makes company investors happy because renewal fees keep rolling in.
Symantec began enrolling North American customers in automatic renewal by default in November 2005, and has since expanded the practice worldwide. McAfee began the practice in 2001. Under these programs, customers pay upfront for a one-year subscription and then, a year later, are automatically billed for the next year's service.
The companies say they have been working with the Cuomo's office for the past two years to improve practices and they have now made it easier to understand and opt out of their respective auto-renewal features
For example, Symantec has now modified its online shopping cart to include better disclosures and an explanation of how to opt out of the program.
Norton users who want to unsubscribe from Symantec's program, can do so on their Norton Account Web page, Symantec said. If you're a U.S. McAfee user, you can call customer support at 1 866 622 3911.
Both companies will now refund auto-renewal fees within 60 days of the charge, Cuomo's office said.
- Google I/O 2013's Coolest Products and Services
- 10 Star Trek Technologies That are Almost Here
- 19 Generations of Computer Programmers
- 25 Must-Have Technologies for SMBs
- A walking tour: 33 questions to ask about your company's security
- 15 social media scams
- The 7 elements of a successful security awareness program
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Federal IT Innovation Caught in a Catch-22
- Fed resources shoring up old infrastructure, holding back new technologies.
- Protection for Every Enterprise: How BlackBerry 10 Security Works
- Get an IT-level review of BlackBerry® 10 Security, addressing data leakage protection, certified encryption, containerization and much more.
- Manage Virtualized and Cloud Environments and the New Software-defined Data Center
- Analyst report by Enterprise Management Associates on the newly announced EMC Service Assurance Suite, and how well it addresses operational challenges and market...
- How Storage Resource Management Suite Meets Today's Storage Management Challenges
- This white paper outlines the common use cases Storage Resource Management Suite addresses including comprehensive monitoring, reporting, and analysis for heterogeneous block, file,...
- Sepaton DBeXstream Enhancements
- Silverton Consulting weighs in on why Sepaton is a compelling response to the data protection challenges inherent in today's large enterprise database environments... All Government IT White Papers
- 3 Reasons Why Sepaton is the World's Fastest Backup Solution
- Leading analyst, Storage Switzerland learns how Sepaton backs up and deduplicates massive data volumes while maintaining the industry's fastest performance - all in...
- Enterprise File Sharing: All You Need to Know
- Security. Scalability. Control. These are just some of the many benefits of enterprise cloud file-sharing that you'll discover in this KnowledgeVault, packed with...
- Bridging HTTP and FTP with FileXpress Internet Server
- What if you could take an FTP server on your internal network, and allow external users (partners or customers) to securely access it...
- MFT and FileXpress - An Overview
- Business users and applications exchange files on a regular basis. File transfer is a core part of the flow of business activity.
- Content Analytics: Big Data Conquered, Customer Service Elevated
- For organizations looking to start a content analytics program or improve their existing capabilities, Aberdeen Group and IBM will lay out several recommendations... All Government IT Webcasts