Do I Have A Virus?

Category: Anti-Virus

A reader asks: “Do I have a Virus? My computer will stop and it says I have a virus and to unfreeze everything I must call a number on the screen. Then they will walk me through the process to fix it. Is this true? I have antivirus installed but still, it pops up now and then.” Here's my diagnosis…

Virus Alert: Real or Rogue?

You don’t say whether these symptoms occur when you are browsing the Web or when you are doing something else. You may have a real virus in your computer, or you may be looking at a simulated virus that is nothing more than a Web page that a scammer has made difficult to close.

Either way, do not call that phone number! You will surely be connected to a fake “tech support rep” who will try to initiate a remote session with you. He'll also con you out of one or more credit card numbers (“Oops, that card was declined. Got another?”) He may also try to get your bank account numbers, Social Security Number, driver’s license number, and other data that can be used to steal your identity.

The most likely result is that you WILL have a virus after dutifully following the instructions of the person on the other end of the phone. Adding insult to injury, new credit card charges will be rung up, leaving you to sort things out with the card issuer. So do not call that phone number.

fake virus scam

If this “virus alert” pops up only when you are browsing the Web, it is probably a fake Web page. Your computer does not have a virus. But the fake page can be designed to take over your entire screen, leaving scant clues that a browser is open. The page may also include code that makes it very difficult to close the page, and which re-opens the page if you do manage to close it. Your first step to get out of this trap is to close your browser.

Press the Ctl-Alt-Del keys simultaneously and hold them down until a Windows screen appears that bears the line, “Start Task Manager.” (Your screen may go blank for a few seconds.) Click on that to open the Task Manager utility. In the Applications tab you will see the name of your browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox etc.). Highlight that name and then click the “End Task” button at the bottom of Task Manager to force the browser to close.

Eliminating a Malware Infection

If you suspect a virus infection, run the fullest, most in-depth scan that your antivirus software can perform. Then run another intense scan using another antivirus program, just to be sure. See my articles Free Antivirus Programs and Deep Scan for Malware for help finding and using free security tools.

If the “virus alert” went away when you closed your browser, then the problem is almost certainly browser-related. The alert may simply be a page on a shady Web site that you visited; the solution is to close that site’s tab or window and never go there again.

But it’s also possible that malware has infected your browser via an extension or add-on that you installed. A free utility named ADWCleaner will scan your computer, browser, and Windows registry for extensions and other programs that may harbor this “tech support” scam. It’s also a good idea to run a full scan using the free or paid version of MalwareBytes Anti-Malware to catch malware your regular anti-virus may have missed.

Another option is System Restore; roll back your Windows system to an earlier time before you started getting the “virus alert.” See my article, System Restore for help with that.

Viruses generally don’t throw up “alerts” to let you know something is wrong. Most malware prefers to operate in secret, so you won't find and remove it. A computer that runs sluggishly may be infected with a virus. Whatever mischief the virus does in the background consumes resources and slows everything.

If your antivirus software is disabled and you didn’t do it, a virus may have. If you cannot visit certain Web sites, especially sites that deal with security and antivirus programs, then you may well have a virus. See my instructions above, and in the sidebar, to scan your computer for viruses if something doesn't seem right, or just as precautionary measure.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
Ask Your Computer or Internet Question

  (Enter your question in the box above.)

It's Guaranteed to Make You Smarter...

AskBob Updates: Boost your Internet IQ & solve computer problems.
Get your FREE Subscription!


Email:

Check out other articles in this category:



Link to this article from your site or blog. Just copy and paste from this box:

This article was posted by on 19 Oct 2016


For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.

Prev Article:
[FIXIT] Hard Drive Data Recovery Services

The Top Twenty
Next Article:
Geekly Update - 20 October 2016

Most recent comments on "Do I Have A Virus?"

Posted by:

DIANN
19 Oct 2016

I get those messages frequently on my tablet. I believe it is just a way for someone to attempt to install malware on my device. I close the page and check my software already on my tablet.


Posted by:

DIANN
19 Oct 2016

I get those messages frequently on my tablet. I believe it is just a way for someone to attempt to install malware on my device. I close the page and check my software already on my tablet.


Posted by:

Dave
19 Oct 2016

I have had this happen many times. I also have cCleaner on this machine so when it happens I don't do anything with Edge and instead start and run cCleaner. This closes the browser and cleans all the garbage out so once done everything is back to normal and off I go again.


Posted by:

hammondmike
19 Oct 2016

Explanation Please! ADWCleaner is from ToolsLib which claims that it is from MalwareBytes. MalwareBytes does not list ADWCleaner as one of its products. How-to-Geek refers to a fake ADWCleaner that is malware. I'm confused!!!


Posted by:

Bernie Crowley
19 Oct 2016

Lester Holt of NBC News did an investigative piece on this and called the 800 number on the screen. He was connected with a call center in India, and the charge to "repair" was $300.00. Had a neighbor with the same problem (Microsoft Edge was locked into the "Virus Screen"), and System Restore worked beautifully


Posted by:

Tony
19 Oct 2016

How about that, Malwarebytes just announced today that they have acquired AdwCleaner!

https://blog.malwarebytes.com/malwarebytes-news/2016/10/malwarebytes-acquires-adwcleaner/


Posted by:

DIANN
19 Oct 2016

It is shocking when you suddenly get a message on your computer saying the computer is infected. I just reboot the computer (a little drastic) and when the computer comes on again, the problem is gone. If the computer was realy infected you wouldn't be warned suddenly. Other things would be happening. I had that happen once on my computer. If my computer was really infected I would just reinstall my system using the system disk purchased when I built the computer. I don't keep anything on my computer that I cannot afford to lose.


Posted by:

Peter
19 Oct 2016

I do a lot of internet searching and I have seen the message that my computer is infected and to call a number. What I always do is shut down the computer immediately. When I boot the computer after this, everything is fine. The last time this happened, I ran ADWCleaner and Malwarebytes and nothing was found. The one time I really got infected, I restored my computer to an earlier time, and the infection was gone.


Posted by:

Rich
19 Oct 2016

I ran ADWCleaner
It removed my winsock settings so I could not connect to the Internet

Luckily I found how to restore them


Posted by:

william maxwell
19 Oct 2016

Just how can I find out what is running in the background, or in task manager, what each item is doing and if I can just delete them? I don't think I have a virus, but sure I have PUPs installed.


Posted by:

Robert A.
19 Oct 2016

I, too, had the same problem, about a year ago. I phoned the number listed, and was also connected to an operator, presumably in India, who wanted several hundred dollars to cure the supposed issue. I told the guy I was indigent, and had no money to spend on computer repairs. He tried to make me a deal for a much lower fee, if I committed to his "services," but I persisted on lack of funds, so he quickly hung up. I did a cold shut-down by holding down the power for a few seconds, until I was sure the computer was totally off. When I powered back on, the message and the frozen screen was gone.

I try to stay away from what I believe are risky sites, so I think I may have clicked on one of those misleading ads on a website that was made to look as though it was part of the article I was reading. The sad part is that some supposedly mainstream and reliable computer info and tech websites allow those scam ads to be placed among the text without putting a line box around the ad, or prominently labeling the ad as such.


Posted by:

Calvin Brown
20 Oct 2016

I don't know what I ever did before I started reading your newsletters, I have learned so much I can't count the things I've learned.


Bob your the greatest,


Posted by:

sirpaul2
20 Oct 2016

The last time I went to download AdwCleaner (a couple of months ago), I ran into this webpage: https://www.malwarebytes.com/adwcleaner_welcome/?x-source=adw-web


Posted by:

steven
21 Oct 2016

Adaware cleaner, was just purchased by Malwarebytes, both are still free. Malwarebytes has a paid real time scanner.
https://www.malwarebytes.com/adwcleaner_welcome/?x-source=adw-web


Posted by:

Old Man
22 Oct 2016

I've had several pop-up web pages saying some program I use was out of date, or that there was something wrong with my computer. So far they only had a "click here" option - no phone numbers.
I've used Task Manager to shut down my browser (which automatically cleans the cache, cookies and history). As soon as I opened the browser again, the pop-up took over. Megabytes and Sophos both reported no malware found. I ended up rebooting the computer to get rid of it.


Posted by:

steven
20 Nov 2016

Why is this still a problem? I assume that EVERYBODY knows about fake antivirus and other scams When will people learn


Posted by:

steven
20 Nov 2016

Why is this still a problem? I assume that EVERYBODY knows about fake antivirus and other scams When will people learn


Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions

*     *     (* = Required field)

    (Your email address will not be published)
(you may use HTML tags for style)

YES... spelling, punctuation, grammar and proper use of UPPER/lower case are important! And please limit your remarks to 3-4 paragraphs. If you want to see your comment posted, pay attention to these items.

All comments are previewed, and may be edited before posting.

NOTE: Please, post comments on this article ONLY.
If you want to ask a question click here.

Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
RSS   Add to My Yahoo!   Feedburner Feed
Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy -- See my profile on Google.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]


Article information: AskBobRankin -- Do I Have A Virus? (Posted: 19 Oct 2016)
Source: http://askbobrankin.com/do_i_have_a_virus.html
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved