3) Fake Virus Alerts and Bogus Computer Tech Support
What It Is – You’re browsing your favorite web site or playing an online game when all of a sudden a flashing alert pops up telling you something to the effect of “Your Computer Is Infected With a Virus”. Often the alert will be disguised to look like a Microsoft Windows alert, or like something a legitimate antivirus program would show. You’re given a link to click on to have this virus removed or sometimes a phone number to call for immediate assistance with this problem.
How It Works and Why It’s a Trick – These are fake ads put out by companies that will offer you a “free scan and analysis” of your computer to help detect and protect you from viruses when in fact, they’re just trying to sell you technical support services that are close to worthless and for which you’ll pay a fee every month. Often, the “system monitoring” software they’ll get you to install, under the guise of protecting your computer, will feed back information on your online browsing habits and serve unwanted ads and popups.
How To Protect Yourself – Get a good antivirus program for your computer (there are some very good free versions and many others that are less than $20), install updates provided by Microsoft or Apple, which typically patch security vulnerabilities and don’t click on suspicious links in emails or questionable websites. This will do far more to keep you and your computer safe than any bogus tech support service.