There’s a reason why scammers turn to scareware so often: it’s an effective way for them to steal your credit card information, trick you out of your money, and gain access to your computer.
If you click on the button to download a rogue security program, you’ll often be taken to a payment screen where you can enter your credit card information. Not only will you be charged for a security program that doesn’t work, you’ll have provided your financial information to a scammer.
You might later start receiving messages from the same rogue security software asking you to upgrade to a more expensive version. Again, the scam here is to trick you into paying for something you don’t need.
Other forms of scareware might disable any existing antivirus program on your computer or install malware or spyware on your machine. Once this happens, the scammers might gain access to your computer’s saved files, take over operation of your computer, track your surfing, or steal even more of your personal and financial information.
The installed software might also slow down your computer, prevent you from installing legitimate security software, and fill your screen with annoying pop-up ads.
What should you do about scareware?
What if an ad pops up on your screen with dire warnings that your computer is infected? Never click on its “download” button.
Always close the ad. Just be careful: Some scareware is difficult to close and is designed to trick you into accidentally starting a download. It’s best to close your browser rather than the individual pop-up ad. If the pop-up ad won’t let you close the browser on your PC, try Ctrl-Alt-Delete to shut things down (if you’re a Mac user, try Command-Option-Esc to open the Force Quit applications window). If you can’t close your browser, do a hard shutdown of your computer.
Never provide credit card information or other personal information in response to one of these scareware ads.
Don’t let a scareware ad frighten you away from purchasing legitimate security software, such as the products offered by Norton.
Never download anything from a company whose name you don’t recognize. And be careful of fakes. Many scareware scammers will use names that sound like the names of legitimate antivirus programs.
4 ways to avoid scareware on the internet.
Here’s how you can help keep scareware at bay.
1. Keep your browser updated.
Updates can be annoying, but don’t ignore them. By quickly approving updates to your browser, you’ll give yourself the most protection from scareware pop-ups. It’s best to use automatic updating to keep your browser and computer programs constantly updated.
2. Keep pop-up blockers turned on.
If you can prevent pop-ups, your screen won’t get filled with advertisements for fake security programs.
3. Install a legitimate antivirus program on your devices.
You need to protect your devices with a legitimate antivirus program from a company you recognize. And when that company releases an update, make sure to install it quickly. Updated antivirus software is your best protection from scareware.
4. If a pop-up does show up, resist the urge to click.
Never click on any links or “download” buttons on pop-ups. If you are legitimately worried that your computer is infected, do a Google search on the company behind the pop-up you’ve received. You’ll quickly discover whether that company is offering rogue security software. If you want to boost your protection, speak with a representative at a legitimate, well-known antivirus provider.