‘Free’ Security Scan Scams
Computer Security Essential
In a world where computers and the internet run nearly every facet of our lives computer security is essential to have.
With the need to have computer security anti virus/malware programs such as Avast, Norton or AVG and stepped up and continue to offer protection with the latest ‘upgrades’.
Enter The ‘Free’ Security Scan Scam
Since the need for computer security is so great scammers have found an ingenious way to scam people:
Offer A ‘FREE’ Computer Security Scan
So the scammers creates a ‘pop-up’ that looks and acts identical to the images on the top right and tells people that their computer might be ‘infected’ and to run a ‘security scan’ right away!
Many people do and they do end up having a virus… from the ‘free’ security scan!
Very Old Scam
This scam has been around since the early 1990s and continues to scam people out of both money and computers and this scam is the focus of this article.
In this article you will learn all about ‘Free’ Security Scan Scams. You will learn how they work, what you can do about them and what practices to follow with computer security.
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How A ‘Free’ Security Scan Scam Works
This scam has many variations, but the following example is how it’s most commonly used by both the scammer and the person being scammed.
Step 1: ‘Pop-Up’, Email or Message Appears On Your Device
This scam usually begins as a ‘pop-up’ that appears on your screen that offers you a ‘free security scan’.
This pop up usually will also contain words that say that ‘malware’, ‘ransomware’, or a ‘virus’ has ALREADY been found on your device.
This causes a lot of people to panic, which is why this scam is also known as ‘Scareware’ because it preys on our insecurities concerning security.
This ‘scareware’ messages are a prelude to more then just a scary messages. They are a prelude a scam that effects more then just your computer.
Step 2: ‘You’ Click To Start The ‘Scan’
Since a lot of people panic over the thought of a ‘virus’ or malware some will click the button to start the ‘scan’ that this pop up is offering you.
Scan ‘Finds’ Problems
This scan will then begin to ‘scan’ your computer and find a place to put the virus that it is preparing to off load. However to ‘you’ it feels like the scan is taking forever adn the longer it goes on the more ‘problems’ the ‘scan finds.
After a few minutes the scan comes back with multiple ‘problems’ that need ‘attention’ right away.
Step 3: The ‘Floodgates’ Open!
Right after the results of the ‘scan’ come back the ‘floodgates’ open as your device is bombarded by ‘pop-ups’ that urge you to ‘buy’ security software.
These pop-ups are only part of the virus that this pop up has already unloaded.
Since some people want to feel safe no matter what, they will buy this ‘software’ for $30-200 and then Step 4 happens.
Step 4: The ‘Virus’ Is Unleashed
This is the last step of this scam and it comes just as you the device owner has bought the ‘security software’ that the ‘pop-ups’ insist you get. Now that you have got it, you can rest easy knowing that the ‘software’ will take care of everything.
The Software IS The Virus
Once you install the ‘software’ the virus or malware is unleashed onto your device with some people having to ‘trash’ their device and get a new one.
This scam costs more then money for some people. For some people they will never buy any security software even from legit companies and that also leads to problems.
Signs Of A ‘Scareware’ Scam
The following are ‘classic’ signs of a ‘scareware’ scam. It is important that you familiarize yourself with these signs as most scammers can now create very convincing ‘security alerts’ that appear to come from your computer.
They do not!
They come from a very clever scammer who can create a simple pieces of code and send it to your device via the internet.
Sign 1: You Receive Ad’s That Promise To Protect Your Device
These ‘ads’ will usually pop up randomly on a legit sites and they will usually promise to protect your device or run a scan to check for ‘viruses’. Some of the most common promises are:
- To ‘delete’ spyware or viruses,
- To ‘protect privacy’,
- ‘Improve’ devices function,
- ‘Remove’ harmful files,
- ‘Clean’ your registry
Know How To Get Out Of The Ad
Any ‘ad’ that offers you promises of computer security is best not to be clicked on. However you have to be careful how to get out of this ‘ad’ as some scammers have found a way to activate it if you ‘click out’ of it.
I will reveal one way to ‘click out’ of the scam without having to worry about the malware being unleashed in your device.
Sign 2: You Get Fake ‘Alerts’
Since scammers only need to know basic ‘coding’ it is really not that hard to create a piece of code that masks as a genuine alert.
These ‘alerts’ come in many forms and they are all designed to get you to click on them and have a virus or worse put onto your device.
2 Most Common Alerts
The two most common ‘alerts’ people get revolve around:
- ‘malicious software’; or;
- ‘illegal pornography on your computer/device’
If you are truly concerned about ‘malicious software’ or ‘porn’ on your computer you can simply take it to a computer specialist at Best Buy or call the ‘Geek Squad’.
Any ‘alert’ that says either of those things is not to be trusted, because of 1 question:
‘How does this ‘alert’ know about any ‘software’ or ‘porn’ on my device?’
Yeah.. ask yourself that question before you click on it.
Sign 3: Pop Ups Claim Security ‘Out Of Date’
This is another ‘classic’ sign of this scam. You could receive a pop up that claims that your security software is ‘out of date’ and that your device may ‘crash’ or is in ‘immediate danger’ unless you ‘download’ or ‘click’ now.
Ignore The Pop Ups
Any ‘pop up’ that claims that is only popping up to scare you, don’t give the pop up, ad, or alert a second though. It is not true and you know that if you already have security software.
Call your Security Software Company
I recommend that anytime a ‘pop up’ comes up telling you to update your security software that you contact your security software company and ask them personally if updates are needed.
If they need to be updated they will tell you as you are a customer of theirs and they want to keep your business.
Sign 4: An Unfamiliar Site ‘Pops’ Up
Another way this ‘scareware’ preys on people is to have an unknown site.
Then a ‘pop’ up comes up and telsl you that a ‘security scan’ is or has been run and that you need to ‘download’ software now.
Anytime an ‘unknown’ site pops up that is a red flag and a sure sign that a scam is upon you. In order for a site to just ‘pop up’ a scammer has to insert code that overrides other code. Otherwise ‘site pop ups’ don’t happen.
Sign 5: ‘You’re Invited’
Everyone loves to get invited to a gathering, but if you receive any ‘invitations’ to go to sites and ‘download’ software or ‘perform’ a security scan don’t accept the invitation.
These invitations are nothing more then scammers trying to lure onto one of their bogus sites and get you to perform an action that results in you being scammed.
‘Scareware Scams Look Legit
Over the years ‘Free’ Security Scan scams; aka ‘Scareware’ scams have become more sophisticated with some scammers creating legit looking operations.
Copy Legit Company Practices
One way they do this is by copying legit practices of computer software companies.
An example of this is when you buy computer software online you normally get an electronic receipt (email receipt) which has a customer service number on it that you can call.
Scammers have done this same thing to people and people have called only to discover that the software and receipt are both fake & the only thing missing is their money.
Buy TRUSTED Ad Space On Sites
Another way scammers try to look legit is by buying trusted ad space on trusted sites. This works to camouflage the scam and get a few trusting people to ‘click the link’ and get scammed.
Since most sites have vague confirmation requirements for buying ad space it really is not that hard to buy ad space and lure people to scam operations.
Know Any Other Way?
Do you know any other way scammers try to look legit? If you do please post them in the comments below.
How To Get Out Of The Pop-Up
If you encounter ‘pop-ups’ or any of the signs of a ‘scareware’ or ‘free’ security scan scam it is important that know how to get out of it.
Don’t Simply Click ‘x’
Don’t simply click the ‘x’ button on the screen as some scammers have written code that starts the download if you click ‘x’. Also don’t click on ‘cancel’, or ‘no’, just follow the directions below.
Do This Instead
- Press Ctrl + Alt + Delete to open the Task Manager.
- Click ‘End Task’
- Press Command + Option + Q + Esc
- This will allow you to ‘Force Quit’
Report A ‘Scareware’ Scam
If you have been scammed by ‘Free’ Software Scan Scam or been effected by ‘Scareware’ it is important that you report it to the proper authorities.
To begin the process of reporting a scam please click ‘Report A Scam‘.
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If you have any questions or comments about computer security, or ‘free’ security scan scams please leave them below.
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