Tech Support Scams

Virus cybersecurity banner

You are browsing websites, checking out the headlines, shopping or catching up on social media. Suddenly you are presented with a screen that tells you that your computer is infected with malware. A recent scan of your device displays that multiple viruses have been found. Possible risks of this infection are displayed including exposure of private data, slow loading websites, malicious downloads, and system crashes. Panic sets in. Where did this come from? And it won’t go away with clicking on the ‘X’. Or there isn’t anything to click on to attempt to close it. But wait! There’s an activation button to click to clean up the system. Or there might be a phone number to call to get help. Is this an action you should take?

Hold on! Take a second. This is commonly referred to as a ‘fake alert’. This is a form of social engineering known as scareware. These pop-ups are generated by websites you may visit that take advantage of the pop-up feature in your browser. They play on fears and anxiety and create a sense of urgency.

How to spot a fake virus alert

  • If you have anti-virus installed on your device, it will pop up in a window provided by your software. Never in a web browser.
  • There will be language that relays urgency to act.
  • There are requests for personal information or payments.
  • If a pop-up blocks your entire screen or prevents you from closing it, it’s probably fake.

What to do if presented with a fake alert

  • Don’t click on any links or call any numbers.
  • Close the pop-up. Close it using the ‘X’ or Alt+F4 (Windows) or Command+W (Mac). If you can’t get the pop-up to close you can use Task Manager to close the session. (Ctrl+Shift+Esc on Windows or Option+Command+Esc on Mac)
  • Don’t provide any personal information.
  • Run a scan on your device with your anti-virus software. Ensure your software is up-to-date.
  • Clear your browser’s cache and cookies to remove and prevent the fake alert from appearing.

Stay calm and follow these tips for spotting and removing fake alerts. Remember, scammers are always trying to entice you with reacting to their schemes. They are looking for the easy way to get your private information and money and found that, sometimes, all they have to do is ask for it by using these malicious maneuvers.

Beware of Fake Virus Warning Pop-ups