Internet Scams to Watch Out For: Scareware
You visit a website and a window pops up warning you that your computer has been infected with a virus. Or you receive an email saying your device has been identified as being the victim of malware.
The good news, you’re told, is that if you click on the provided link, someone scan your system and eradicate the problem.
But when you do so, the “scan” will result in the website installing all sorts of malware on your computer. The result can be anything, from having software broadcasting your every move to advertisers, to key-logging software that records passwords and personal data, or even the ability for the criminals to remotely access the PC and steal private data.
If they’re extra greedy, the Internet scam artists might also ask for your credit card number for a small fee to cover the “virus protection” — that just saves them the extra time needed to grab that information once they have access to your computer.
In another variation, the “antivirus software” installed locks the user’s PC, then they must fork over $100 to unlock it. PC owners in Kentucky were in the news last year after a scareware variation claimed to have found child porn on their PCs and demanded $500 to avoid having authorities contacted.
One scareware company alone netted $100 million from victims before being shut down by the FTC in 2010.
What to do: If you see one of these virus warnings, close the window, don’t click on any links and run a scan using legitimate antivirus software.