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Chances are most consumers have seen a pop-up window while on their computer. Most pop-ups are generated by websites that a consumer is visiting or has visited. They may be annoying, but are generally harmless.

 

However, savvy criminals often disguise malware in the form of a pop-up that looks as if it is a warning from the computer’s system. These pop-ups usually warn the computer is at risk of having a virus and directs consumers to click a link or call a phone number to help remove the malware. These pop-ups are usually viruses themselves so clicking on them is definitely a bad idea.

 

Calling a phone number that is associated with the pop-up connects consumers with a “technician” who walks you through how to remove the virus from your computer. Except those steps are actually downloading a virus onto your computer or giving the thief access to your system. This is also a common scam  we covered a few months ago.

 

In our research, we ran an internet search of some phone numbers commonly associated with this scam. The results listed websites that provided step-by-step instructions of how to “get rid” of these pop-ups or the virus that may be hiding in your system. While that may seem like a good solution, in reality, the websites are unsafe and are actually listing steps to infect the computer.

 

Consumers should be sure to turn on the computer’s pop-up blocking setting.  It’s also smart to download an anti-spyware program. Anti-spyware programs locate malware in your system and remove it automatically. Finally, consumers should be wary about clicking on pop-ups.  Taking a few minutes to research the pop-up can save consumers from significant problems.

 

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education.

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