BBB offers tips on avoiding computer malware

The Internet gives you access to countless products and services. At the same time, Better Business Bureau of Acadiana warns it also can leave you open to scammers, hackers and identity thieves. How many times have we heard of scams involving computers and the internet? Malware is a mysterious word that many do not understand. It is short for "malicious software" that includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer, phone or mobile device without your consent.
April 09, 2014

These programs can cause your device to crash and can be used to monitor and control your online activity. This is a serious problem as criminals use malware to steal personal information, send spam and commit fraud.

Sneaky, smart scam artists try to trick people into clicking on links that will download malware and spyware to their computersespecially computers or cell phones that don't use adequate security software. Consumers are not powerless.

There are precautions we can use to reduce your risk of downloading unwanted malware and spyware:

  • Keep your security software updated.
  • Don't open attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it is. Opening attachments — even in emails that seem to be from friends or family — can install malware on your computer.
  • Download and install software only from websites you know and trust.
  • Minimize "drive-by" downloads. Use a pop-up blocker and don't click on any links within pop-ups.
  • Resist buying software in response to unexpected pop-up messages or emails, especially ads that claim to have scanned your computer and detected malware.
  • Back up your data regularly.

Has your computer been acting a little weird these days? Your computer may be infected with malware if it:

  • slows down, crashes, or displays repeated error messages
  • won't shut down or restart
  • serves up a barrage of pop-ups

There are other warning signs of malware also. If you suspect there is malware is on your computer, take these steps immediately:

  • Stop shopping, banking and doing other online activities that involve user names, passwords or other sensitive information.
  • Update your security software and then run it to scan your computer for viruses and spyware.
  • Delete anything it identifies as a problem. You may have to restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

 Many companies offer tech support on the phone, online, at their store and in your home. If you think your computer has malware, the Federal Trade Commission wants to know. File a complaint at is the federal government's website to help you be safe, secure and responsible online.

 The Federal Trade Commission manages, in partnership with the federal agencies listed below. is a partner in the Stop Think Connect campaign, led by the Department of Homeland Security, and part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education, led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Find information at or call (337) 981-3497 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.

The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.