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Solutions: No legitimate antivirus program pops up, asks for cash

For some time, a box had been coming up saying I had 364 errors. On your advice, I downloaded Microsoft Security Essentials, but the same error box kept appearing. So I checked the "repair now" box and downloaded the program PC Mighty Max at a cost of $29.95. It did take away the errors, but I then remembered that I had already downloaded that same program in July 2009. Should this program have protected me longer than nine months? Shall I contact them and have them refund the extra $29.95 I just paid? As you can surmise, I am fairly new at the computer game and am decidedly a senior citizen.

I'm sorry, but Mighty Max is a scam. It is similar to the AntiVirus 2010 "scareware" virus in that it fools you into downloading what you think is a antivirus program to scan your PC.

But all it does is disable your real antivirus (which is why you still received the errors even after installing Security Essentials) and trick you into making a payment to them. The good news is that other than stealing your money, it usually does not harm your PC other than the nuisance messages. You can get rid of it, but it takes some work.

Some of what I'm about to tell you may seem beyond your level of expertise, so maybe you can get a friend or relative to help you out.

Download and install Malwarebytes' free Anti-Malware from malwarebytes.org. It also has a product for sale, but the free version is all you need for now. Reboot into Safe mode (press F8 while the PC is restarting and choose Safe mode with networking). Run the antimalware program and have it do a full scan. Follow its recommendations to remove any problems it finds. Reboot. Sometimes these scam viruses will persist even after running the Malwarebytes program. In this case, you'll need to download and install ComboFix.exe from combofix.org.

This particular program installs itself under a random name to hide itself from the scamware virus. Follow the instructions found at the download site. This should solve your problem. Remember that no legitimate antivirus program will pop up in a window asking you to download it. These are all scams.

Send questions to personaltech@sptimes.com or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: No legitimate antivirus program pops up, asks for cash 04/11/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 9, 2010 8:13pm]
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