June 14, 2011

Avoiding Online Scams

Recently, a patron called the Technology Center saying that she picked up a computer virus. She received a pop-up that her computer had been infected and a company was offering her antivirus software to clean her computer and protect her from future viruses. She decided to purchase the software, called Vista Antivirus 2011, clicked on the link and provided her credit card number. Shortly thereafter, her bank's anti-fraud division called to tell her that the company she was purchasing the software from was fraudulent and they cancelled the charge.

No harm done, right? Wrong!

By clicking on the link, the patron actually infected her computer with a malware that rendered her computer inoperable. She couldn't access the Internet, she couldn't access files on the hard drive, she couldn't even run a scan using McAfee, the antivirus software she already had installed on her computer. She now has the daunting task of cleaning the insidious virus from her computer.

Reader's Digest published an article about seven typical online scams and how to avoid them. You can read the article
here. Our patron fell victim to scam #4. Here is another good article about how to protect yourself online. Microsoft is also aware of this issue, and has an article regarding "scareware" scams here. Additionally, this article from the excellent (but unfortunately recently ended) technology blog Download Squad has some good tips as well on how to spot fake anti-virus scams.

If you’ve been victimized by one of the latest scams, don’t be embarrassed. Scammers work overtime at perfecting their trade and new viruses are introduced every day. And remember, you can call the Technology Center at 248.524.3542 if you have any questions regarding antivirus software.

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