While browsing a website, you might receive a pop-up requesting that you verify your account information, informing you of a security threat to your computer, or even congratulating you on winning a random prize. The request seems legitimate and related to your current browsing session, and you might be using anti-virus software, so you decide to engage with the pop-up. By providing this information, the scammer may now have your account information, financial information, or even full access to your computer.
Pop-up phishing scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and scammers have been targeting users from some of the largest technology companies. While each scammer might have different motivations or techniques, they typically attempt to trick users into installing unwanted software onto their computer, providing sensitive personal information, providing remote access to their system, or purchasing unwanted subscriptions. The request will likely be urgent to encourage you to act before being able to do your research.
Identifying Pop-Up Scams
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you do not recognize the reward or competition, it is likely a scam.
- Be suspicious of any request that is urgent or requires your attention within the next 30 minutes.
- Ignore any requests in a pop-up to run a scan on your computer or mobile device. A webpage cannot perform an anti-virus scan.
- Review the content for spelling errors, incorrect logos or corporate branding.
- Enable multi-factor authentication when available to make it more difficult for scammers to access your accounts.
- Directly contact the company if you have any questions regarding the authenticity of the request and don’t click any links or download any attachments from suspicious sources.
- Regularly scan your computer using anti-virus software. While anti-virus software will not prevent all pop-ups, it will be able to discover any unwanted files that may have been downloaded to your computer.
If you have fallen victim to a pop-up scam, or are suspicious of something you have encountered, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
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