Joe said: “I got a flash on my screen on my laptop that told me I needed to call a number to get my computer cleaned out. I called the number and they wanted to charge me like $600 for a program that was ‘proactive’ anti-malware.”
Joe, we’d make one of those “if I had a dollar for every time I heard this story” jokes, only it wouldn’t be funny under the circumstances. This is, obviously, a scam. Although you didn’t say it, we’re going to guess that you had your web browser open when this message popped up.
That’s how they work, these scams. They use human engineering. They trick you into doing what the scammer wants, as opposed to a virus that tries to sneak undetected into your computer. The browser pop up is the most common scam we hear about.
The bottom line is this, once you have your web browser open, you can’t believe any of the pop up screens you see, UNLESS that screen happens to clearly be from the antivirus software that’s on your computer. Those legitimate notices usually come from the system tray also, and not as a separate pop up window.
The other common scam is a phone call where the caller claims to be from Microsoft, or working for Microsoft, and tells you that your computer has been experiencing errors. They offer to repair these errors, if only you’ll sign up for their service or buy their software.
So, Rule #1 is this–once the browser is running, TRUST NO POP UP.
Rule #2 is MICROSOFT DOES NOT CALL YOU. Not now, not ever. Frankly, it’s hard enough to get them to answer the phone when we call THEM.
The Internet is a dangerous place. Let’s be safe out there!