Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Paying someone to remove a virus may be okay depending on how you found that person. If they found you... don't!

My computer has been infected by the Searchnu virus and I've been chatting with a guy from (some) security about it. I'm a senior citizen and only learning to operate a computer. He wants to charge me 44 pounds to remove a virus, which I cannot afford. Can I do this myself or is it too complicated? Also, is this a recognized company? And would it be worth me trying to pay the 44 pounds? I operate 64 bit Windows 7 using Google Chrome. Can you please advise?

In this excerpt from Answercast #96 I look at a possible scam to fix a virus on a computer, and ways you can do the same job yourself for free.

Pay someone to remove a virus

So... I want to make sure, first off, that you are the person that contacted that company. In other words, you somehow located this company (whose name I'm not including here) to basically reach out for some help.

If you contacted them then they're probably legit. Whether they are any good or not, I honestly can't say. And it sort of depends also on where you found them. But if they're local to you, and if they have ads, or are in your local phone directory, then chances are they are at least trying. They're not a scam.

Now, unfortunately, I can't guarantee that - but the odds are that they are not a scam.

Scammers contacting you

Unfortunately, the reverse is very clear. If somebody contacted you out of the blue to help you with this problem, then that's not something you want to do. You do not want to pay them. You don't want to talk to them anymore. They are in all likelihood running a scam.

On top of that, if for some reason, you got notified to contact them because of a message that appeared magically on your computer... don't!

That is the definition of what we now call "scareware." What they're trying to do is scare you into paying for something you don't need.

Fix a virus yourself

So, can you resolve this yourself? My belief is that you can.

You need to start by making sure that your computer is running appropriate anti-virus and anti-spyware tools. Then make sure that those tools are up to date, and they are getting up-to-date database information.

Most tools, when you install them today, will do exactly that by default.

I would then have you run the free tool from malwarebytes.org. That free tool. Have it run a complete scan of your system.

My guess is that between the anti-malware software that you're running normally, and this scan from malwarebytes.org, you'll probably be able to get rid of this thing yourself.

Free malware software

Two important points: one, all of the software that I'm recommending is free. So you're not out any money.

And, the software I'm recommending - you can find in an article I have on my site called, "What security software do you recommend?"

That page will give you links to several free, different, security packages; one of which I actually do recommend. But if that's not the one you want to run I've got some alternatives there as well - and a link to the malwarebytes that I just talked about.

Save yourself some money

But, no. Normally, getting rid of malware like this is usually, (usually!) a fairly straightforward run of a couple of free tools you can download from the internet.

Now, if that gets a little too confusing? If that's not something you feel you can handle yourself? That's ok. But that's where I would strongly recommend that you seek out a local professional - probably one you can check a couple of referrals on, to make sure that this is someone who knows what they're doing.

But have it be someone that you choose and not someone who chooses you.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6329 - March 1, 2013 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

9 Comments
Fred Pickles
March 5, 2013 6:30 PM

Actually, now a days a regular user does usually need a tech like myself to remove Malware. That is because if the user's A/V or whatever did not remove it automatically there is a lot more to fixing the computer than just running a scan. Usually at this point the browsers have been hacked, there may be Windows system files that have been changed, there are temp files left over that will probably still cause problems and usually the Windows restore files are infected as well. If a person finds themselves with constant infected messages or their PC is acting up they should call a trusted tech. It can be a very complicated matter to get rid of the malware. But yes you are correct Leo. If someone calls you out of the blue to tell you that you have a virus, you should hang up on them immediately. I know lots of people that has happened to.

indianacarnie
March 5, 2013 6:53 PM

I'm sorry but I don't agree with you Mr. Pickles. Yes, some malware today is very persistent and can take a little digging to completely remove. BUT (don't you hate those but's? :)),99.9% of them can be removed by some diligent scanning/removal tools. It may take a few passes to get the job done and sometimes more than one tool, but I've found nothing I couldn't remove/clean/repair after some work. This particular poster has an adware/malware that is widely recognized and solutions are freely available all over the net. Malwarebytes and/or SuperAntiSpyware along with a deep scan with her A/V should clear it up post haste.

James
March 5, 2013 6:55 PM

Fred,

Maybe some people do need you, but not everyone. Running the tools that Leo has suggested are not difficult and should be everyone's first course of action.

People need to be told that the computer is not some scarey box. They need to know that there are a lot of things they can fix themselves for free, and if it's still acting up, then it's time to call the technician.

Not that I'm trying to deprive you of your living but there are too many people out there afraid to even attempt to try basic repairs, and that's wrong.

When my furnace started acting up, calling the repair man was not my first reaction. My first action was to open it up and see if there was anything that I could do. Once I had done all that and exhausted my knowledge, it was time to call someone in. Did I waste my time? Sure, since I couldn't fix it. But when it came time to paying the tech, I could tell him what I had done and found. That narrowed his focus and he came up with the solution faster. That saved me money.

snert
March 5, 2013 9:44 PM

You might try Bleeping Computer. They're there to help people with various computer problems. They have a dedicated forum for malware. You have to register to post anything but it's at no cost to you. Sometime it get's technical but if you explain that you don't understand they will walk you through it.

Geldhart
March 6, 2013 7:41 AM

It also comes down to how much is your time worth to you. I could probably learn how to change the oil in my car, but the learning time, the tools, the time it takes to find everything in the engine, to properly disposing of the oil, I'm better off just paying someone who does it all the time to do it. Many of my clients probably COULD do it, but it's just much easier for them to have me deal with it so they can focus on their business.

Helga Wells
March 6, 2013 2:36 PM

I agree with Fred Pickles. When my address book was hacked, they blocked all my anti-virus programs, can't download anything and system restore was blocked too. Therefore, I have no other choice but to use my CDs to restore the computer.

Fred Pickles
March 6, 2013 8:28 PM

I am not recommending that users not try running some scanning tools themselves. My company deals with 99% businesses and they usually don't want to bother with the time and effort to work on it themselves. I instruct them that the minute they get a virus alert to call me and don't do anything. The reason being is that a lot of times it is fake alerts and they can't tell the difference between their real A/V alerts and a malware alert and when they start fixing it themselves they usually mess things up. If things are really bad and the PC needs to be wiped (which happens quite often) a business doesn't mind paying me $400 to do it. I understand that home users can't usually afford that so I have no problem with them trying to fix it themselves first. Hope that clarifies my views?

johnpro2
March 9, 2013 1:44 PM

There is a good self help Youtube video to remove ''searchnu" toolbars and search engine & home page hijack..
Click full screen button & use pause button if going too fast and write steps down. You can do one at a time. It might be slightly different if you have a different version of Windows
Copy and past below link to find or just go to Google search engine and type searchnu then Youtube button.
link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8Tx00JBk3Y

Alan
March 30, 2013 9:26 AM

you said it was free, but first thing pc malware tool asks you is for credit card info. are you also running a scam?

No, I'm not running a scam. I have no idea what "PC Malware Tool" is, and if there's something by that name it's not something I recommend. My recommendations are here: What Security Software do you recommend?
Leo
30-Mar-2013

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.