Pop-up scams involve fraudulent messages that “pop up” for users when they are surfing the web. In many cases, cyber criminals infect otherwise legitimate websites with malicious code that causes these pop-up messages to appear when people visit them.

The content of these messages is what makes them so effective. Often, but not always, they present the unsuspecting website visitor with some kind of fraudulent warning, typically about the security of their computer. Then they prompt the visitor to download a remote access tool, or antivirus application (that’s actually malware), or prompt the visitor to call a fraudulent phone number for “support.”

What to Know

  • In general, distrust pop-up messages on websites, especially if they claim to have found issues with your computer; these are often referred to as anti-virus or tech support scams. A legitimate IT support group will not use pop-up messages to alert you about issues with your computer.
  • Other pop-up scams have been reported where someone claims that you are entitled to a refund or that you sent them too much money and they need to correct it. In this scam, you’ll be asked to respond to the pop-up to initiate that correction.
  • Regardless of the reason in the pop-up message, never give anyone who contacts you remote access to your computer.

What to Do

  • Do not click any buttons or links in the pop-up message or respond in any way to a pop-up request on your computer.
  • If you’re concerned about your computer, call your security software company directly -- but don’t use the phone number in the pop-up or on caller ID. Instead, look for the company’s contact information online, or from a trusted source like a software package you purchased or the receipt.
  • Safely close a pop-up window. You can do that by locating the button in your taskbar that corresponds to the pop-up (normally, it will have the same title). Right click on the button and select Close. If that doesn't work, use the Windows Task Manager to close the pop-up.
  • If you believe you are a victim of a pop-up scam, immediately file a complaint with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Provide all relevant information and identify that your complaint pertains to a pop-up scam.
  • If you discover a fraudulent transaction on your KeyBank account, immediately contact the Fraud & Disputes Hotline at 800-433-0124.

This material is presented for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individual advice.

KeyBank does not provide legal advice.