Beware of Malware Scams
Common malware can come in many forms like viruses, worms, spyware, adware, and ransomware. Malware scams are particularly malicious, as they exploit the prevalence of scams and hackers to trick innocent victims into losing their information and money.
Here’s what you need to know about malware scams and how to avoid them.
Types of Malware Scams
A Trojan (or Trojan Horse) disguises itself as legitimate software with the purpose of tricking you into executing malicious software on your computer.
Spyware invades your computer and attempts to steal your personal information such as credit card or banking information, web browsing data, and passwords to various accounts.
Adware is unwanted software that displays advertisements on your screen. Adware collects personal information from you to serve you with more personalized ads.
Rootkits enable unauthorized users to gain access to your computer without being detected.
Ransomware is designed to encrypt your files and block access to them until a ransom is paid.
A worm replicates itself by infecting other computers that are on the same network.
They’re designed to consume bandwidth and interrupt networks.
Keyloggers keep track of your keystrokes on your keyboard and record them on a log.
This information is used to gain unauthorized access to your accounts.
Where Does Malware Come From?
Malware attacks happen when you’re least expecting it. The most common sources of malware include shared networks, email attachments, torrents, and malicious websites.
- Shared Networks – A computer infected with malware that’s on the same shared network can spread malware to your computer.
- Phishing – Emails can be disguised as coming from a fraudulent company to get you to reveal personal information.
- Torrents – Files shared as BitTorrents or .zip files are generally unsafe. You never know what to expect until they’re downloaded, and you can’t undo it.
- Malicious Websites – A fraud website may attempt to install malware onto your computer, through a popup or malicious links.
Red Flags in Malware Scams
Avoid malware scams by looking out for these warning signs:
- An alleged rep of a tech support company, or the FTC, has called you without you reaching out to them first.
- The “tech support rep” asks you to provide them remote access to your device so they can allegedly remove any malware installed.
- The scammer claims that severe damage has already been done to your computer even though everything looks untouched from your observations.
- The message urges you to act immediately or risk causing further damage to your device.
- The prompt asks you to enter your credit card information or checking account details to pay them for their service. Alternatively, they’ll ask to be delivered via a prepaid gift card.
If You’ve Been Targeted
If you believe a malware scam has targeted you, take these steps to protect your money and device from harm.
- Close or disengage with the message as soon as possible.
- Next, close your device immediately if you’ve started entering information into your computer as per the caller’s instructions.
- If you believe you have already given the scammer access to your device, you may want to consult a genuine tech support expert to remove any malware that may have been installed.
- Consider canceling any credit cards you may have shared with the scammer or which were stored on browsers and apps on the device.
- Consider placing a credit freeze on your name to prevent any loans or new lines of credit the scammer may take out in your name.
- Report the scam to the FTC.
Signs Your Device Is Infected By Malware
A computer may be infected with malware and still operate almost typically. Here’s how to tell if your computer’s been infected:
- It’s slowed down considerably.
- You’re being blasted with endless pop-up ads. Most of these are also scams.
- Your system abruptly crashes.
- You’re suddenly low on disk space.
- There’s an unexplained increase in internet activity.
If you notice any of these signs on your computer, it’s best to bring it to a tech support expert who can scan it for malware.
If malware is found, you can follow the steps outlined above to protect yourself from further harm. Stay alert and stay safe.