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Chargeware definition

Chargeware is malware disguised as legitimate software, service, or a free application that often tempts users with enticing and unrealistic features. Once installed, it can charge users for premium services, subscriptions or even make unauthorized purchases or charges. Typically chargeware operates silently in the background and makes hidden transactions in the form of SMS messages sent to premium numbers, which can result in huge financial losses for the victim. Sometimes chargeware can collect personal information for other malicious purposes or acts.

See also: spyware, anti-malware, ransomware, scam websites

Examples of chargeware

To protect yourself from chargeware malware, download programs or applications from trusted sources, check app permissions on your devices, and keep your device systems up-to-date. Here are some examples of chargeware malware:

Unauthorized in-app purchases: Various low-cost or free games and applications may attract users. However, once users install these apps, they can charge the user’s account for additional features or premium goods without further notice.

Premium SMS scams: Once chargeware is installed into the user’s mobile device, it may send premium or high-rate SMS messages from the device to various numbers, resulting in huge charges on the victim’s mobile bill.

Misleading subscription services: This type of chargeware can trick users into costly subscriptions without consent. Some apps can claim free basic services but can have hidden subscription fees printed in a tinny type or hidden in their terms and conditions, often resulting in recurring charges.

Rogue security software: Rogue security software chargeware has a typical scam architecture. This type of chargeware disguises itself as a legitimate anti-malware security software. However, it can charge users for fake security alerts or non-existent removal of a threat.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security