By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Anti-virus software is one of the easiest ways consumers can protect their computers, but that protection has become a target for scammers. As 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds, a consumer’s best intentions can end up being pretty costly.

Installing anti-virus software and updating it on a regular basis is one of the simplest steps you can take to protect your computer and the personal information stored there. Internet security experts have noticed a fast-growing trend, scammers trying to snare well-intentioned consumers with fake anti-virus warnings and malware.

“Nowadays, it’s gotten a lot worse because cyber-criminals can make a lot of money off of this, so they’ve developed elaborate graphical user-interfaces to mimic things,” says security expert Derek Manky.

According to Manky, the scareware can silently install itself on a computer and try to hijack existing anti-virus software. Red flags that a virus warning may not be legitimate can include redirecting a user to a website and asking for a credit card number to fix the so-called problem.

In the event of a scam, take the computer offline, reinstall existing anti-virus software, and complete a new scan of the device. To avoid getting tripped up by such a scam in the first place, have safe web browsing in place, as well as web filtering security software and anti-virus protection to block malicious websites.

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