Virus helps scammers get credit card data

A particularly nasty and persistent virus is making its way around the Windows computing world these days.



A particularly nasty and persistent virus is making its way around the Windows computing world these days.

So many variants are popping up that it’s hard to keep track, but the virus often goes by the names MS Removal Tool or AntiVirus 2011 or System Tool 2011.

You’ll know you have it when your desktop wallpaper changes and an official-looking popup says the only possible way to clean your computer is to enter your credit card number. Never do that!

You’re blocked from executing anything else, including trying to run your real anti-virus program.

This virus program renders your entire computer useless until you can get it removed. And some of its many variants are becoming immune to existing removal tools; it appears to be spreading faster than some of the countermeasures.

The program’s goal is to collect your credit card info and steal money. It’s sophisticated enough to have duped lots of people into typing in their account numbers and sending them along to heaven knows where.

We’ll see fewer of these malicious programs if:

l Consumers stop enabling them by providing account information.

l Consumers keep good anti-virus programs on their computers. You’d be surprised by the number of unprotected PCs I see in my computer business. Anti-virus software is free. Search for “Microsoft Security Essentials” and install it if you have a Windows PC.

If your computer gets this infection, it can be truly maddening to remove, depending on the variety.

YouTube videos outline some removal methods you can try if you’re relatively computer savvy. The best method is to use Google to find an activation code for the version you have (people are sharing the codes all over the place) and then actually activate the software as if you were a sucker and bought it. That will give you back control of your computer and allow you to run your anti-virus software.

Most of all, you should install and run Malware Bytes, a malware removal program, in “full scan” mode. If that does not find and remove your infection, you may have the newest variation — and you may need to run other tools or call in a professional to manually track down and remove the virus file.

So beware: Try to stay with reputable web locations and keep your virus software updated and never, ever enter your credit card information into a web page or a piece of software that you have not intentionally purchased.

James Derk owns CyberDads, a computer services firm in Evansville, Ind. Contact him at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bloc Québécois MP Sebastien Lemire rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, March 12, 2021. A Bloc Québécois MP has apologized for taking a screen shot of a Liberal MP who inadvertently appeared nude during virtual proceedings in the House of Commons last week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Bloc Québécois MP apologizes for taking nude photo of Liberal MP William Amos

‘I have no idea how that photo made its way into the media’

FILE - This Sunday, June 25, 2017, file photo shows TK Holdings Inc. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. A driver in South Carolina is the latest person to be killed by an exploding Takata air bag inflator. Honda says that a faulty driver’s air bag blew apart in a crash involving a 2002 Honda Accord in Lancaster County, South Carolina. The company wouldn’t give details of the Jan. 9, 2021, crash near Charlotte, North Carolina, nor would it identify the person who was killed. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
South Carolina driver killed by exploding air bag inflator

Drivers can check to see if their vehicles have been recalled

Hospital staff shift the body of a COVID-19 patient on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance at a specialized COVID-19 hospital in Noida, a suburb of New Delhi, India, Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Low on beds, oxygen, India adds global high 314K virus cases

Government rushing oxygen tankers to replenish hospital supplies

A traveler wearing a protective mask, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, walks through the nearly empty JetBlue terminal at Logan Airport in Boston, Friday, May 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Charles Krupa
JetBlue expanding wings with service to Vancouver from New York and Boston

JetBlue will have to compete with Canadian airlines

Green Party MP Elizabeth May arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. An emergency parliamentary debate that was supposed to be a forum for cross-party collaboration on better ways to combat the COVID-19 pandemic has devolved into another round of partisan finger-pointing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emergency parliamentary debate on pandemic devolves into partisan finger-pointing

‘Let’s work together instead of playing terrible politics in this debate’

Westerner Park’s Exhibition Hall was used as a vaccination clinic on Wednesday. A steady stream of people came to get their COVID-19 shots either by appointment or as walk-ins. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
No long lineups at walk-in vaccination site in Red Deer

A steady stream of people walked into Westerner Park on Wednesday to… Continue reading

FILE - In this March 19, 2021, file photo, people take pictures of the Olympic rings installed by the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo. The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated. This of course is spilling over to concerns about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that open in just over three months.(AP Photo/Hiro Komae, File)
Olympic bodies launch competitive series in virtual sports

Olympic body hopes to reach more young people

Linda Tomlinson
Gardening: Leave the lawn until the soil is dry

Spring is arriving, Alberta style with warm days, cold days and snow.… Continue reading

Silent protests were held recently in response to Red Deer Public Schools’ decision to reject a Pride Week in favour of a Diversity Week. Some former employees at Red Deer Public are saying the decision is misguided. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Letter: School board silencing Pride Week concern

While it has been our practice to not comment on matters arising… Continue reading

Anderson scores twice as Canadiens down Oilers 4-3

Anderson scores twice as Canadiens down Oilers 4-3

New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse (5) shoots next to Indiana Fever's Kamiah Smalls during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Bradenton, Fla. Nurse isn't just one of Canada's finest female basketball players, she's becoming a popular voice of the game as well. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Phelan M. Ebenhack
Canadian basketball star Nurse is carving out space in sports broadcasting at just 25

Canadian basketball star Nurse is carving out space in sports broadcasting at just 25

Most Read