Most people, while using the Internet, have dealt with some type of annoying pop-up or distraction. Usually, these annoyances just cost a few minutes of time as we click to get rid of them and remove malware extensions added to our browsers without permission. Unfortunately, a small percentage of those who run into these scams lose more than a few minutes; they lose a few hundred dollars as well. It’s a problem that has victimized several residents in Lincoln County, as well as thousands across the nation.

The most common tactic that scammers use to scare people, mostly senior citizens, out of their money, is a type of bullying adware or malware. ‘Malware’ is an umbrella term used to refer to various types of hostile software. This particular hostile software freezes the browser and forces Internet users to click on a a pop-up box that says they have a critical virus and are in danger of losing their whole computer if they do not on the box to fix it. These scammers then charge hundreds of dollars to install unnecessary software on these victims’ computers.

“These scams have affected several honest residents in Lincoln County. It’s unfortunate and it will never go away,” said local technology expert Joseph Lamb. “All we can do, is try to educate our community in hopes that it doesn’t happen here again.”

Another scam effecting Internet users is hacking malware that encrypts files on your computer. They lead people to believe that they are helping unlock something caused by someone else, when in fact, the people you contact for help, actually caused the problem in the first place. When contacted, these scammers will say they are certified Microsoft or Apple technicians. They won’t offer any solutions outside of what they are selling.

There are ways to avoid these scams. When you download a new browser, such as Firefox or Internet Explorer, make sure you are downloading from the official website. Anytime you use a search engine to find software, the first two or three links are advertisement links. Make sure to scroll past those and find the authentic website for what your downloading.

If you’ve already downloaded your browser from an authentic source, and you run into the “warning” pop-ups that freeze your browser, get rid of the pop-up – you may have to restart your computer to get rid of it – and check the extensions for your browser to see if any unauthorized ad software was downloaded. If so, simply delete it. If you do not see any adware extensions in your browser settings, but continue to have issues with pop-ups, click on your desktop start button and then click “Help and Support”. From there, you can type in “System Restore” in the search box and your system will walk you through resetting your computer to a date before these issues started.

Although these scammers will say otherwise, these tips are all you need to get your system back to normal.