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Scareware Scam: What It Is, How It Works and How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

scareware popup

Scammers come up with new scam schemes every day to keep their earnings. Every year, a huge number of people fall into fraudulent networks simply due to a lack of information about various fraud schemes. Today we are going to talk about one of the most popular types of scams – Scareware. Many people have not even heard of what is scareware. We will try to tell you about this type of fraud in as much detail as possible.

What Is Scareware?

Here is one of the definitions of scareware. Scareware is a type of malware that uses pop-up ads and social engineering techniques to trick netizens into thinking they need to buy or download useless or dangerous software. This is sometimes called scareware pop-up.

In simple terms, scary software is a deception that appears in the form of pop-up ads encouraging consumers to act quickly to eliminate perceived cybersecurity risk.

Downloading malware can have a wide variety of consequences, including credit card fraud or identity theft. Fortunately, knowing what scary software is, how to recognize it, and how to remove it — all of which we describe here — there is no need to worry about this threat.

Examples of Scareware

scareware list

Scary software is a popular choice among cybercriminals as it allows them to steal your credit card information, extort money from you, and gain access to your computer. Virus-killing scams, clickjacking, distributing fake antivirus and technical support scams are just some of the methods they use.

Here are some of the first scareware list examples of scary software in the real world:

  • In 2006, Microsoft and the Washington State Attorney General filed a joint lawsuit against the software provider Secure Computer, claiming that it was distributing malware called Spyware Cleaner to Microsoft users.
  • In 2009, Russian internet payment processor ChronoPay targeted Mac users with intimidating software, prompting them to buy fake antivirus software.
  • In 2010, Best Western newspaper ads lured visitors to fake websites that downloaded malware onto their devices.
  • Between 2009 and 2016, Office Depot and OfficeMax customers were tricked into paying for repair services when a PC health check revealed that their computers were infected with malware.

If you are still wondering what scareware is and how does scareware work, then here is the answer:

Scary software, also known as rogue software, rogue scanning software, or rogue software, works as follows:

A pop-up window warns you that your device has been jailbroken, possibly with a virus or malicious file, causing you shock, anxiety, or panic.

The pop-up will appear until you click on the call to action, which may be a button that says “download”, “visit the website” or “close”. If you do, it may direct you to a supposed remedy for your cybersecurity problem, such as antivirus software.

After interacting with the pop-up, the malware is downloaded to your device manually or by direct download from a fake website. Finally, your data is at risk, leaving you vulnerable to hostile activities.

This malice can take the form of holding your computer for ransom, installing malware, infiltrating your business, stealing data, credit card fraud (because you provided a fraudster with your payment information), or identity theft.

After all, no one wants to be a victim of a scareware scam.

How to Prevent Scareware and What Red Flags Can Warn You about Scams

Scareware on websites doesn’t look good, they contain capital letters and a few exclamation marks.

The pop-up prompts you to act immediately because the hackers behind these attacks want you to buy and install their malware as soon as possible before you have time to think.

The pop-up is difficult to close, and clicking on the “X” only brings up additional pop-ups.

The pop-up window immediately scans your computer and tells you that there are hundreds or even thousands of viruses on your computer.

And remember that development companies will never force you to download their program.

5 Ways to Prevent Scareware

what is scareware

By understanding what does scareware do, we can determine what to do in order not to fall into the trap of scammers.

List of recommendations:

  1. Never click on any links or download buttons in pop-up windows unless you want to infect your computer with a virus. If the problem persists, close your browser and, if necessary, turn off your device completely.
  2. Always keep your browser up to date: You will get the best protection against intimidating programs pop-ups if you quickly approve browser updates. Turn on automatic updates, so you don’t miss a security patch.
  3. Allow pop-up blockers to work: If you can prevent pop-ups from appearing on your screen, you won’t be bombarded with ads for fake security software.
  4. Before purchasing new software, make sure it works: never download anything from a company you don’t know the name of, or send a credit card or other personal information. A quick Google search can tell you if the software is being sold to you legally or if it is a scam.
  5. Invest in antivirus software and activate URL filters, firewalls, and other cybersecurity technologies to get rid of the guesswork that you’re dealing with intimidating software.

How to Understand If Your Device Is Loaded with Scareware

Do you suspect that you have been tricked by scary software? Here are some potential points that can show you that your devices are infected with scareware:

  1. Your gadget is running slower than usual.
  2. You cannot install or use legal cybersecurity software.
  3. Pop-up ads abound on your screen.

How to Get Rid of Scareware

scareware scam

If you’ve unintentionally downloaded scareware on your device, you should delete it right away. Although deleting the download is a smart place to start when it comes to scareware removal, you may overlook more obstinate applications or files that the malware has left behind. This would necessitate the installation of legitimate antivirus software capable of eradicating any remaining traces.

In three easy actions, you can get rid of scareware:

Step 1: Remove the phony antivirus software.

Because the scareware will be disguised as a seemingly legitimate antivirus tool, locating and deleting the offending file should be quite simple.

How to Get Rid of Scareware on a Computer

  1. In the Windows search box, type the control panel, and then pick Control Panel from the results.
  2. Select Uninstall an application from the Programs category.
  3. Once the scareware has been located, click Uninstall and then OK if a confirmation window appears.

How to Get Rid of Scareware on a Mac

  1. Open your Finder window and look in the Applications category for the undesirable software. Right-click and choose to Move to Trash, or click and drag it to the Trash.
  2. Now empty the Trash to completely remove scareware.


Now, knowing what a scareware scam is, it will be easier for you to bypass it. Follow our advice to protect yourself from such fraudulent schemes.

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Author of article

Tatiana Sharapova

Interests: music, finance, cinema, art

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