"Sorry, boss. My computer might have the flu so I won't be in today."

Not only will that not fly, it's probably not the case.  I mean the part about your computer having a virus.

Let me explain.

There are a lot of scams going around right now and they differ in approach, but all generally want the same thing: Your money!

Viruses aren't the easy way to get your money and are spread into your computer to gain information about you: Credit card, bank info, SS #s, etc.  This evolved into spyware, trojan horses, worms, other downloadable fake security software, and scareware.

Most of these bad-guy programs are downloaded through an email attachment or clicking a link with a download.  Viruses generally need to run a program to work,  Whereas trojan horses are hidden inside a program like a free coupon app and will silently spy on you

Enough on the nitty gritty, though.

One latest trend is to  quietly load malware (umbrella term) onto your computer (no big flashing lights and pop-ups) by having you run a program that looks legitimate and enticing you because it's free (coupon clippers, for example).  Then this malware runs on your computer and pops up messages at the right time to let you know you have a "really bad virus" and instructs you to call a number or click a link.  So you call, and this scammer person answers with a professional voice and well, keep reading below.  All the while, nothing is wrong.

This trend of malware is now a billion dollar industry and is called "Scareware."

These are the big scary pop-ups, flashy and scary-sounding alerts on your computer (hence, scareware).  This is where the crooks make the biggest cash. It's one thing to spy on your computer to find information (this can take time).  It's another for a scammer to just ask for your credit card number and get it.  Fast and easy!

So when your computer pops up a message (that looks real) from "Microsoft" or "your bank" or "Dell" telling you that you have a virus or you've been compromised, remember that any tech-loser can make a fake message and make it pop up as scareware from that free game you downloaded by accident.

Don't call the number.  Don't wire money.  If it's an email, don't unsubscribe or reply telling them that they're a loser. Close the window or hit Ctr-Alt-Del -->Task Manager --> Find the window that's open (likely an internet browser window) and Right-Click --> End Task.  

Then, clean up (or call us)
  • Run Malwarebytes
  • Run a full virus Scan
  • Check for rogue programs and uninstall them
  • Check for extensions and add-ons in your internet browser that look weird and deactivate and delete.
  • Run "sfc /scannow" in an elevated command prompt 
Only a part of the time will your virus scan conclude that your computer has the flu (a virus).  Most of the time you'll have to search some other places to find where the scareware has come from.

Remember, downloading free things on the internet usually comes with some cost.  Whether they just want your subscription (email address) or they have bad intent.  Make sure you understand what you are giving to get this "free" item.

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