Don't be scammed protecting your computer

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PHOENIX – If you have a computer, you really need an anti-virus program. 

A legitimate program will detect and remove viruses before they crash your computer but don't be fooled by those little pop-up windows that say, "Warning, we've detected a virus" or something like that.

That's usually a scare tactic to try to get you buy something you may not need.

Tom Christ uses his computer on a daily basis and knows the importance of having an anti-virus protection installed, especially when banking online. “My life savings is in a bank, most of my work through the bank is through the computer.”

So when a pop-up ad appeared on Tom's screen advertising an anti-virus program, Tom clicked on it because the pop-up claimed to have detected a virus in Tom's software and that spooked him. "It said I had a virus and it said that it was trying to access my passwords.”

As a precaution, Tom clicked on the pop-up and bought the anti-virus program but, according to Ken Colburn with Data Doctors, consumers should never do that.

"One of the biggest scams going right now are these fake anti-virus programs. You're surfing along on the internet and all of a sudden something pops up and says you're infected," Ken says.

He says consumers like Tom should simply stay away from anti-virus programs that come in the form of a pop-up.

Although it's important to protect your computer, Ken says just make sure you're buying a legitimate program that you've researched and that you trust. “You have to keep your anti-virus updated. You have to make the right choice."

Tom says he'll be playing it safe from now on and wants to warn others about not falling for a fake anti-virus
solicitation if one pops up on your computer monitor.

“I like to raise awareness, because I’m sure I’m not the only person this has happened to.”

In Tom's case, he actually had a legitimate anti-virus program already installed but when that pop-up window appeared saying he had a virus, it was actually another company trying to sell him something so you have to be careful.