Refunds Thousands In Scareware Suit

FinallyFast, one of those companies with the late-night infomercials promising to make your computer faster, has settled with the Washington AG for misleading and deceiving consumers, and making it hard to cancel or get refunds. One of their tactics was to make the free scan on their site falsely identify harmless files on your computer as being errors. Consumers can now get some of their money back.

Just listen to all the tricky business, Ascentive, the company behind FinallyFast, was up to. From the WA AG press release:

  • Misrepresented that consumers’ computers are at risk of harm through banner ads that resemble warning messages, pop-ups and graphical images.
  • Sent deceptive e-mails that suggest the company’s software is recommended by Microsoft.
  • Offered free scans that were bundled with other programs that launched excessive pop-up warnings and nagging alerts until the user either purchased the company’s product or uninstalled the software. The scans often identified harmless files as errors.
  • Failed to disclose that by downloading one program in its suite of services, an additional program – essentially an advertisement for other software products – would also be installed.
  • Added additional products to orders during the checkout process. Consumers had to uncheck boxes next to the products in order to avoid being charged.
  • Failed to clearly disclose that consumers who purchased products were actually buying an annual license and would be automatically billed each year unless they cancel.

All good reasons why you should avoid these so-called “optimization” sites that often do nothing more than optimize sucking money from your credit card.

Eligible Washington customers who bought Ascentive products will get an email in the next month telling them how to claim their refund, which will involve printing and signing the message and sending it in within 30 days.

The settlement was with the Washington AG but I’ve seen their commercials in other states… Maker to Refund Thousands in Spyware Case [PCWorld] (Thanks to Jessica!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    “…you should avoid these so-called “optimization” sites that often do nothing more than optimize sucking money from your credit card.”

    I would never visit or use one, but I am sure there’s many who did, and learned the hard way.

    Keep your computer up to date with updates, a good (free) antivirus, anti- spyware/malware, a firewall, and run defrag every now and then. That will prevent most of your problems.

    To prevent near 100% of your problems, unplug the Ethernet cable, or turn off the wireless switch.

    • consumed says:

      Free antivirus softwares, despite being very popular, are often not the best choice.

      I personally don’t use an antivirus because I know how to discern between malware and legit stuff, but I would never put AVG or Microsoft Security Essentials on my parents’ computers. Why? AVG is community supported, and you get what you pay for. With Norton, Trend, Kaspersky, etc those companies are paid and have the money to research virus or malware attacks.

      You get what you pay for.

      • JohnnyP says:

        Not true AVG offers Home users free AntiVirus. They actually offer a line of other products for business.

      • masterage says:

        lifehacker would like to say otherwise XD

      • Skellbasher says:

        The engine and virus definitions used in the free version of AVG are identical to those found in AVG’s commercial products. The difference is that the free version has less features and customization, and they provide no tech support. The software is not some thrown together piece of junk.

        To be honest, AVG’s commercial offering is superior to Symantec’s corporate AV suite based on my experience deploying both.

        • Clyde Barrow says:


          I bought AVG w/Firewall and it works perfectly. The free AVG was terrible on my OS XP and I thought it had a bug.

          I also use:

          PC Tools Spyware Doctor
          Malware bytes
          UniBlu 2010 Registry Cleaner

          I think the best advice I can give is make sure you get a registry cleaner. Of all the things that I have used, my registry cleaner keeps my sys running perfectly. Everything has a purpose and AVG and Stopzilla do not help a sys run better. You need something else for that. Your registry gets corrupted every time you hit the “start” button regardless of whether you get online or not.

          Uniblu cleans and keeps my laptop running very well and I’ve had my laptop since Jan of 2007. Unless a major defect causes my HD to fail, there is no need to replace anything. Last year I updated my bios and added 1gig of RAM.

        • Pax says:

          I agree. I have the full-on paid-for version (AVG Internet Suite 2011), on both my and my partner’s machines. Annual renewing licenses come to $40 for the two computers – and this is the second year I’ve been with them.

        • vdragonmpc says:

          I love uninformed users. Symantec has changed its engine and the new Endpoint security is more streamlined and less of a resource hog than the old version.
          Most companies improve their products or buy up another company. Symantec has done this several times and uses what they get.

          AVG has been a mess for 8 years. I have had more trouble from clients who trusted this and the free junk from their provider (Im looking at you McAffee) that I would rather stick with the business AV called Symantec.

          I can also say that I blackballed Computer Associates as they were more worried about copy protection than the product working. Then when we got the product working it was ‘not the correct version’ for what we needed in a network environment. I am not going to every freaking machine to install AV on a multi-site network. Lunacy. Then the vendor was so inept that they sent EVERY product the company made to us! Go go copy protection! We had it all and sent it back. Crap all around.

          If you want to be safe I use this combination:
          Symantec Endpoint Security for antivirus
          Malware Bytes fully updated
          Spybot is cool but not as good in my opinion as malware bytes.

          If a client has a serious infection we have had great luck with Combofix. Its a very VERY good cleaner. We end up running this on machines where people ‘knew their stuff’ and didnt run antivirus or just left the ‘evaluation’ version running and never bought updates.

      • Alvis says:

        “I know how to discern between malware and legit stuff”

        Ha. You’re going to get SCREWED.

      • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

        What’s wrong with MSE? Even the geeks at Slashdot like it.

        • dolemite says:

          Nothing, it’s one of the best now.

          • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

            Right, my question was somewhat rhetorical and directed at “consumed” who said he or she would never put it “on my parents’ computers. “

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Comcast, while evil, offers it’s internet customers free Antivirus software as long as you have internet with them.

      • JJ! says:

        Just because you’re paying for it doesn’t mean it’s the best.

      • aloria says:

        “I personally don’t use an antivirus because I know how to discern between malware and legit stuff”

        May God have mercy on your soul.

      • c!tizen says:

        “I personally don’t use an antivirus because I know how to discern between malware and legit stuff”

        Never heard of site cross scripting, eh?

      • kc2idf says:

        I would rather have community support all the way around. Hence, I use Linux and (at least for the moment) don’t worry about virus infections.

      • Griking says:

        Youch. I’m sure you also never visit any websites that use Adobe flash either. But tell me, how do you know in advance when an ad-server of a legitimate website gets compromised by viruses?

      • sqlrob says:

        Given that both McAfee and Norton have toasted machines with updates, where’s this mythical research from money?

      • matt314159 says:

        I also disagree with consumed. Immunet + Avast! free AV have been pretty amazing in their performance (and, yes, you can stack them). Even Microsoft Security Essentials is pretty decent, uses their corporate AV engine, if I recall.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Most computers I wipe virii/malware off of are either running McAfee or Norton/Symantec. I have nothing but contempt for them. I just switched a few of my systems over to MSE, and I haven’t had a problem yet. In fact, it helped me clean a drive from another computer I attached with a USB adapter.

      • wastedlife says:

        Those free solutions are funded by paid versions, and are often far better than Norton, McAfee, etc. In fact, Microsoft Security Essentials, Avira, and Avast often rank far better than paid alternatives. Check out av-comparitives and other AV testing sites.

        “I personally don’t use an antivirus because I know how to discern between malware and legit stuff”

        Hah, good luck. Thats like skipping vaccinations because you know how to discern between sick people and healthy ones. There are tons of ways to get viruses and malware without downloading shady software or going to shady sites. Cross-scripting vulnerabilities, hacked ad servers on legitimate sites, web browser/plugin (Adobe Flash) vulnerabilities, just to name a few. I hope you check your credit reports often and reinstall on a regular basis to ensure you are not participating unknowingly in a botnet.

      • PsiCop says:

        In my experience, the free antivirus titles are about as effective as paid ones. They often have the advantage of being simpler and leaner; if you want to bring a perfectly good PC to its knees, you can hardly do a better job of it, than to install McAfee or Norton on it.

        As for knowing the difference between safe software and malware … you might have a point, if they all presented themselves visibly. Unfortunately, many malware titles go out of their way to make sure you DO NOT see them. I’ve known folks who said pretty much what you did … and later had to hire me to clean up their infected PCs.

        Have fun surfing the Web. Contact me when you need my services, I’ll be happy to earn a little extra.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I still continue to wonder, who exactly is still buying products/services on the TV at 3am?

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      LOL,,,during my vacation I almost bought a box cd of 150 songs of the greatest Motown Hits on TV. And it came with a DVD for those classic video’s of yesteryear when everything was in black and white. I am kind of sorry that I didn’t do it.

    • Necoras says:

      Your grandmother who doesn’t sleep more than 3 hours a day.

    • Straspey says:

      I can remember when there was no TV at 3:00 am – except for a test pattern and tone.

    • GrandizerGo says:

      Hahaha, I did once… I was in Vegas, my plane left at 6AM and I had to be at the airport by 4:30…
      I went to sleep at 2, and kept waking up fearing I had overslept.
      I ended buying a 2 for 1 magic blender for all my mixed drinks…
      At 3:30, told the operator my story and said if he spent too much time trying to up-sell me, I would just hangup and leave.


  3. backwerds says:

    I never understood the ad purely on the basis that they show a user using a mac in the commerical but then they have a disclaimer saying it only works on pcs…

  4. Southern says:

    After reading this, only one word popped into my head.


  5. KlueBat says:

    I also loved how they imposed images of a Windows desktop on a Mac computer in many of their ads. Ironically, they did not offer a Mac version of their service.

    • Skellbasher says:

      However, their website would warn you about Windows filesystem errors when accessing it on a Mac using Safari.

      If that wasn’t a big enough clue they were bogus, I’m not sure what was. :)

      • kc2idf says:

        It’s only a good clue if you know how to interpret it. You clearly do, as do I, but not all computer users are computer savvy.

    • ChuckLez says:

      yep, mentioned it one day to my dad when we saw it. You know its good when the commercial shows a BSOD on a Mac.

  6. Gandalf the Grey says:

    Back when they were running adds for “Stop Sign”, I was fixing about 4 computers a day where the biggest problem was they had allowed it to install an eAccelleration product.

  7. Jonesey says:

    The best way to optimize your system is to get microsoft security essentials (free, lightweight anti-virus), run a malware-bytes scan every now and then (also free), and keep track of your background programs/processes. You should keep track of what processes “start up” on a boot, I use crap-cleaner (free!) all the time to manage this stuff, and my systems run uber-fast.

    Then again, chances are no one who reads the consumerist is dumb enough to buy one of those things, so I might be wasting my breath here…..

  8. Papa Midnight says:

    Ascentive has been pulling this same crap for the better part of the past decade. About time someone took them to task for it.

  9. goodpete says:

    I always got a kick out of the “” commercials because they would shoot people using Macs and then digitally overlay a Windows error screen in post-production.

    Personally, I find the most efficient way to speed up my Mac is to not put Windows on it…

  10. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    One thing that always bothered me, but never enough to actually look it up, is that in the commercials, they company says they have been featured in major magazines. I wonder if they were bashed in those magazines, and realized no one would look up WHY they were mentioned, just hear that they were.

    I did love the geeky gamer kid who yells to his MOM that the computer is slow. Dude, don’t admit your a noob to your momz, or she’ll pwn your ass.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      I usually check out CNET if I want to upload any free software to my computers only because I trust their opinions and mechanisms for safety before recommending anything.

      Last night I uploaded a new freebie called “Hamster” for burning DVDs. Amazingly simple and fast to use. It’s only in the BETA stage but I hope they come out with a full version but for now it’s good. I usually have problems with DVD burning software either not recognizing my CD/DVDs or simply just not working. This one never had a flaw and burned five-90 minute school video sessions in five minutes.

    • summeroflove says:

      I always feel like when they say that they are in major magazines that they just have an ad somewhere in it.

  11. framitz says:

    This is what? One of three or four similar scammers.

    I’ve been tempted to check them out on line just to prove they’re bogus, but haven’t found the time. Of course I won’t even visit their sites on my main PC, but I do have a box to test with.

    It’s good to see something being done, but wonder why it has taken so long.

  12. Im Just Saying says:

    Seems like most of these AG wins are from Washington. Rob McKenna must be a busy man.

    • danic512 says:

      Outside of him joining the healthcare lawsuit, this is pretty much his focus. It’s quite impressive, actually.

    • Daemon Xar says:

      He certainly knows to show up when the cameras are on . . . he also apparently believes that he is the supreme executive authority in the state, and refuses to file actions/appeals on behalf of his statutory clients. That gives him some extra time to do media-friendly consumer protection cases.

      He also has a large, generally decent staff that do the actual work. Like every attorney general.

  13. nutbastard says:

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  14. stevied says:

    Do a farking re-install of the OS every 12 months.

    Personally I buy a new HD. Install the OS and then transfer the files from the old HD. Bingo. Done. Clean install, faster running computer and gone is all the accumulated crap.

    • kc2idf says:

      Yeah, I used to do that way back before I defenestrated my computers. It’s actually not a bad practice, but it is a bit more trouble than most people are going to want to take.

  15. CBenji says:

    My daughter and I both use Mac’s, but my little one has a PC. Sure enough she clicked on something that was a lot like this thing. She was thirteen at the time. She already had an anti-virus program and then she came up to me telling me that the computer wouldn’t run, it would just scan that stupid thing. I had to take the darn thing to the shop. A few weeks later one of her friends were with her, and he clicked on the same thing, but luckily they fixed it for free this time. I could have killed them all because it was such a pain. The kid doesn’t come over anymore, not because of this, but because of other things.

    I am sure that if someone bought this and they had a Mac even if it didn’t work they would still take the money. Some people are just that naive.

    • brianisthegreatest says:

      My macbook has never been faster since finally fast. It’s like new again. No more BSOD’s while I’m checking my email like on the commercial.

      but seriously, i went to the site and they have a dmg for mac. WTFWTF

    • shepd says:

      Things I learned (and taught) when I owned a computer store:

      – Never give your kids your computer
      – Buy your kids their own computer (some used junk is fine, but don’t get one too crappy or you’ll just hear them whine all day about how it sucks)
      – Tell your kids it gets fixed once every X months (I’d say once a year) and if you blow it up before then, too bad
      – Password protect your BIOS, your HD, and your OS on your PC
      – Tell your kids you will send them to whatever classes they need or give them whatever books they need if they want to fix it themselves
      – As a last defense, if you believe your child might be differently abled, I suggest you learn how to use ghost and make sure your kids have an external HDD. This last one is the best suggestion against people ruining PCs.

      Only had two people follow my advice and they were so very happy they did. Saved them money and me time (since it was the kids PC I could just reformat and re-install, no backups).

  16. stephent says:

    One thing about their commercials that make me laugh is that they are advertising for PCs, but I’m pretty sure the computers in the adds are Macs

  17. davidsco says:

    ABSOLUTELY. Just as you can’t pour some elixer into your gas tank that will improve your mileage or fix your engine, you can’t download some software that is going to do the same to the most complex piece of equipment you own, your computer. WHY people believe they can is beyond me. ANOTHER company taking advantage of those who don’t know better

    • framitz says:

      Actually there are a number of FREE software tools that CAN help improve PC performance for the people that don’t know how to properly maintain a computer, it’s operating system, and software.

      People that feel a need to rebuild their systems yearly are simply not competent to maintain their computers and substitute by ‘starting over’. Very inefficient.
      For these folks I would suggest a local mom and pop PC shop might do the job at a reasonable price. Optimization should take less than hour even if done manually.

  18. PsiCop says:

    I knew the product was BS when the commercials depicted Macs — including an iBook G4, one of which I still own — with “blue screens of death.”

  19. dandadan says:

    Based on the description of Finallyfast it fits the definition of Malware. I am a computer technician and find this junk loaded on peoples computers all the time.
    Definition of Malware: Loads software trying to promote or upgrade the product. Claims you have problems, most of which are false flags, downloads code without your permission and literally tries to get you to pay to use your computer. They also eternally charge your credit card.

    These companies are little more than criminal operations. The people who operate them should be sued out of business. On a typical malware call I do more to speed up the operating system than ripoffs like Finallyfast or speedup my pc and the other ilks for less money and hassle than them. Find a good local tech and your problems will be minimized.

    If you signed up for any of these ripoffs, reverse the charges or replace your credit card. They will continue charging you forever, not unlike the thieves at Norton, Mcaffee and other cyber thugs.


  20. gman863 says:

    Best site for free legitimate scanning, antivirus and malware removal software:

    The editors test every download before it is posted on the site and users rate programs on a scale of 1-5.

    Some of the best free stuff on MajorGeeks:

    Advanced System Care (fixes registry errors, defrags drive, no tech skills required).

    Malware Bytes – a legitimate open-source program that will detect and remove almost any malware including the newer “pop up” crap that most anti-virus programs miss.

    • wastedlife says:

      While I mostly agree with you, a couple nits to pick:

      Modern Windows versions handle the registry far better than the bad old days of Windows 9x/ME. If you(not you personally) do not know your way around the registry, you should not attempt to “clean” it with any software. Your best bet is to roll back using System Restore or the restore disc from your PC manufacturer to fix registry issues. Also, Windows Vista and 7 automatically defrag on a regular basis by default, there is no need to do it yourself. If you have a solid-state drive, do not defrag at all!

      Malwarebytes, while fantastic, is not open source.

      • gman863 says:

        Registry errors still happen, although they’re not usually as bad in Win 7. Most of the ones I come across are due to either software or malware that wasn’t removed completely.

        Advanced System Care does work. Unlike CC Cleaner and some other programs, I have never seen it “overclean” the registry and cause additional issues. I’ve moonlighted for years doing PC repair for home and small business; even my most “special” customers are able to use it without any issues.

  21. flip says:

    the only late night TV I would watch was the Richard Bey Show ( for those that remember him )

  22. brianisthegreatest says:

    haha finally owned.

  23. electrogruve says:

    People actually fell for this?