Don’t get scammed with an unintentional download

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Okay, I am going to do a bit of ranting today.  I won’t be talking about unethical politicians (aren’t they all) or annoying TV commercials.  I’m here to tell you about a growing trend among software manufacturers – deceiving the consumer into installing software that was not wanted.

software installation scam


This is something that I am seeing pretty regularly now.  Someone will bring me their computer (or I will log on and look at it remotely).  There is some program (or multiple programs) on there that keeps popping up and it just won’t go away.  The standard question from the computer’s owner is, “How could this get on my computer?  I never installed it, and I have good security programs running.”

So how does it happen?  In many cases, the user was deceived into authorizing that program to download and install.

Here’s how it works:

You find a program that you want to install on your computer.  And, for this example, we’ll say it’s a legitimate program with a useful purpose – it’s not spyware or a virus or something.

So you download the installation file, then you run that file in order to install the program.  Of course, there is the standard “Next – Next – Next” that you go through whenever you install software.

If you just click “Next” without really reading what you are doing, then you are going to end up with a lot of junk on your computer.  If you watch each of those “Next” screens closely, you will often see that somewhere in the middle of that series of screens there is an option to download a toolbar (or several), and in some cases even download and install other unrelated programs.

But most people click the “Nexts” so quickly, they don’t even notice that they actually authorized this other crapware to get put on their computer.

It’s a pretty slimy way to do business, but in some cases I have seen a tactic that is even more deceitful.  With this method, even the people that NOTICE the sneaky installation attempt and try to stop it can get tricked.  It’s what I call the Checkbox Scam.  I made a video to show you what I’m talking about, and the easy way to get around it (click the icon in the lower right corner to see the video at full size):

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