Phishing scams have long been synonymous with email, and to some degree, popups. As email spam filters become better at preventing phishing emails from reaching you, scammers become more creative in their attempts to gain access to your personal and financial information.
Most of us have seen popups that scare you into believing that your computer is running slow, or is otherwise infected with a virus. The intention is to get you to install their software which they claim will speed up your computer or remove viruses. Web sites, however, can not detect if a computer has a problem with running abnormally slow, or if viruses exist. The software that they’re recommending is designed to spy on your activity and record information that can be used to access your personal or financial information.
Another trend that has surfaced more recently are popups that appear to be from your bank or Internet service provider. These popups will have the name of your bank, or ISP, and will request information, tell you that there is a problem with your account, or entice you with a reward for completing a survey. They will often ask you to click a link, or call a phone number, where they will acquire your information and charge you for fraudulent services.
If you’re browsing the web and get a pop-up that alerts you to some problem with your computer, Internet service, or bank account, or otherwise asks for personal or financial information, it is most likely a scam. Do not click on links in the popups, or call the phone numbers listed. If you do suspect you have a problem, or are concerned about your account information, visit the website of your bank or ISP directly, or call them with a known genuine phone number listed on your invoice/statement, the company’s web site, or the telephone directory.
If you get a popup that is phishing for information, report it to the FTC via their website at https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov. If you believe you’ve been scammed, visit the FTC’s identity theft website at http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft to learn how to minimize your risk of damage from ID theft. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
To stay informed on the most recent scams being reported to the FTC, visit http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/scam-alerts and sign up for scam alerts by email.