Scareware is a particularly underhanded form of malware that causes fraudulent warning messages to pop up on your screen. These messages tell you something is wrong, or something bad is about to happen, and that you must immediately take a specific action to make it stop. Other names for this virus include “fraudware” and “rogue scanner software.”
Scareware messages come in all shapes and sizes. Some messages display alarming security warnings demanding immediate action, while some present more innocent-looking messages that simply prompt you to click “OK” to dismiss.
Sometimes the popups look harmless. In many cases, though, the popup appears to be a serious warning with any urgent message telling you to pay for software or a service to solve the bogus problem. The price tag for the solution is usually a small one, which makes the scam even more believable.
In the best-case scenario, you’ve paid for a worthless service. In the worst case, however, you’ve downloaded more malicious software to your computer, or you’ve provided your card information to criminals.
QUICK TIP: Question any warning message that asks you to download, install, or pay for something.
Then follow these important steps:
Step 1: Close the browser. The first thing you should always do when you see a suspicious alert on your computer is to close the entire browser window without clicking anything on the popup. (If the popup is preventing this, open your task manager – CTRL+ALT+DELETE on PC and COMMAND+OPTION+ESCAPE on Mac) and shut down your browser from there. If this doesn’t work, shut off your computer. When you start your computer again, don’t open your browser until you’ve completed the next two steps.
Step 2: Run a virus scan. Once you’ve closed your browser completely, run a virus scan on your computer using your installed security software.
Step 3: Make sure your operating system is up to date. Run any pending system updates, then reboot your computer afterward if it doesn’t reboot automatically. When you start your browser, decline any prompts that ask you if you want to reopen the tabs you were using before. If the popup returns, clearing the recent history and cache from your browser may eliminate the remnants of the scareware.

The Best Defense Against Fraud is the Cardholder

Due to the number of merchants and other entities involved in data breaches and the resulting media exposure, consumers are paying more attention to their accounts. That’s a good thing because the best defense against fraud is the cardholder; by being aware and engaged they can help protect themselves from fraud.

Here are some suggestions for actions cardholders can take to mitigate card fraud:

  1. Notify the institution before they travel or make large or unusual purchases so you can allow these purchases and temporarily raise their limits if needed.
  2. Sign up for transaction alerts and review transactions online.
  3. Use online banking to retrieve financial statements. With online access, confidential mail is not sitting in an unlocked mailbox.
  4. Friendly fraud (the fraudster knows the victim – a relative or friend) accounts for about 10% of fraud. Don’t leave confidential information out in the open.
  5. Don’t give out personal private data over the Internet or phone unless you initiate the interaction with a trusted source. Do not respond to emails, phone calls or text messages that ask for sensitive information.
  6. Do not give out card and PIN information. Do not write your PIN on your card or put it in your wallet. Do not use a PIN that can be found in your wallet (birthdate, part of social security number, house number, etc.).
  7. Do not reveal any sensitive personal information on your Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites.
  8. Do not respond to text messages, phone messages, emails, or pop-up windows that offer a gift in exchange for providing card information. There are so many scams circulating, it’s hard to stay current; in general DO NOT respond to ANY requests for personal and/or financial information.
  9. Do not provide your card information to any web site that is not a secure site. A secure website will have an “s” after the “http” in the URL address bar.
  10. Install and regularly update anti-virus, anti-spyware software and keep computer systems updated.
  11. Be aware of those around you … don’t let others overhear sensitive financial or personal information.
  12. Shred documents with sensitive information prior to disposal.
  13. Select complex passwords for your on line accounts. Avoid using the same password for all accounts.
  14. Other resources to check out:
    • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identity Theft Hotline: 877-ID-THEFT http:l/
    • Social Security Administration’s Fraud Hotline: 800.269.0271