You get a pop-up or other urgent message from someone saying your computer is infected. It might seem like the message comes from a well-known company like Microsoft or Apple, or maybe your internet service provider.
It tells you there are viruses or other malware on your computer. It says you have to call a number or risk losing your personal data. But is this threat – or problem – real? Judging by reports to the Federal Trade Commission, it's a scam!
These are scammers who want to sell you useless services, steal your credit card number, or get access to your computer to install malware, which could then let them see everything on your computer.
Here’s what you can do:
- Stop. Don’t call a phone number or click a link. Don’t send money, give your credit card number, or give control of your computer to anyone who contacts you.
- Pass this information on to a friend. You might know these pop-ups are fake, but chances are you know someone who doesn’t.
- Report Scams to the Federal Trade Commission. Call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or TTY 1-866-653-4261. Go online: https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1.
Your report can help protect other people. By reporting a scam, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify the imposters and stop them before they can get someone’s hard-earned money. It really makes a difference!