Gerry from NY is struggling with malware on his computer… malware that he paid a pretty penny for.  He writes :”I have been duped by a “computer cleanup” program that was not done but was billed $400 for. They tell me to go to ‘eventvwr” and see how many items there are that “are not good for my computer”. I’m almost 80 years old and am NOT a geek. Are these items to be deleted from the event viewer and how can I do it?”

Hi, Gerry.  Thanks for the great question, and I’ll be happy to answer it, but first I have this bridge in New York that I think that you’d be interested in, and a Nigerian prince that needs your help…

eventviewer

Nah, I’m kidding.  But seriously, you’re right, you’ve been duped.  But don’t feel bad.  Somehow, as the public internet goes into its third decade, people are still falling for these things.  The first thing that I’ll suggest is the name of a seminar that a woman that I met once in Seattle offered about malware… “Don’t Click on Anything…  EVER!”  If you see a popup on your screen that says anything about viruses or malware or spyware, and you don’t recognize the program telling you about it, don’t click on it.

fakeadcrop

You’ve got some kind of malicious program on your computer.  Also, let a $400 price tag be an alarm bell.  Fully licensed versions of even the best anti-malware programs (AVG, Norton, McAfee) will typically run you less than $100.  And I know that AVG at least offers a great version of their software for free.  How do I know this?  Because it’s what I’m running on this computer right now.  They will protect you from malicious software like this.  Just as a personal aside, contact your credit card company and see if they can reverse that charge because it’s fraud.  I don’t know if they can or not, but it’s worth a try.

Now, as far as computer clean-up goes, the first advice that I would give you is to NOT do anything that this malicious software tells you to do.  The next thing that I would suggest is to take your computer to friendly neighborhood geek and get that thing completely removed from your computer.  Once that’s done, install a good anti-virus software.  Your geek may have a good free program that he can install for you.  If not, and you don’t want to pay for one, I’d recommend AVG’s free version.  You can also ask your geek to clean up your hard drive for you.  He or she will know what can be safely removed and what can’t.  If they won’t, then you can download an excellent (again, free) program called Ccleaner.  It can be downloaded from a number of reliable sites like Cnet.com, but if you want to get it straight from the source, their website is http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner.  This program will give you options of what you’d like to remove.

The last thing that I’d like to suggest is that you become… at least to some degree… a geek.  Learn what you can about your computer, and what you can do to keep it safe.  Check with your local library to find out what good free classes for seniors are offered in your area.

I hope that this helps.

~Randal Schaffer