Enter A Product Key Scam

Also Known As: Enter a product key virus
Damage level: Medium

What is Enter a product key?

"Enter a product key" is a false error stating that the Windows copy is not activated. The user is asked to enter a genuine Windows activation key or call "Customer Support" via a telephone number provided (+1-888-414-4284).

Unlike other similar fake error messages, this particular one also delivers an expiration message via the computer speakers - when the user clicks on the error screen, a "Please Activate Your Windows Call To Us On 1884144284" message is played. Be aware, however, that entering a valid key will not work.

This error is a scam - developers merely attempt to trick users into calling the number. Furthermore, this scam error configures itself to run on Windows startup and is often promoted using adware-type applications (via the bundling method).

Enter a product key adware

Another variant of “Please Enter Product Key” scam (cyber criminals are using a phone number of +1-888-991-3318):

product key scam second variant

Text presented in this scam:

Microsoft Windows Product Key
Please Enter Product Key
Windows Defender prevented an unrecognised and malicious software on your computer. Please enter your Windows Product Key. The Product Key should be on a label or the card inside the box that Windows Disk came in or in the confirmation email you received after buying it, if you have upgraded to Windows 10, you have a digital license instead of a key. A product key is a 25-character code used to activate Windows. It looks like this: PRODUCT KEY: XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX

Research shows that the fake Customer Support service attempts to convince users into allowing them connect to their system via remote control software (for example, TeamViewer). In addition, victims are encouraged to pay $99.99 for a "valid key" to supposedly activate Windows.

This is a scam and has nothing to do with Windows activation - even if you are using a trial Windows version, paying will not result in an activation. Fortunately, this rogue error has a flaw - a hard coded password that allows victims to bypass the fake activation. Therefore, there is no need to call the fake Customer Support number or to buy the key from these people.

You simply need to enter "closecloseclosecloseclose" into the Product Key field, reboot the system, and the problem is solved. These adware-type applications often deliver intrusive online advertisements that conceal underlying content of users' visited websites, and might also redirect to malicious websites.

Thus, clicking them can result in high-risk adware or malware infections. In addition, these rogue applications collect various information relating to users' Internet browsing activity. The recorded information is shared with various persons (potentially, cyber criminals).

The presence of an information-tracking app on your system can lead to serious privacy issues or even identity theft.

If you continually encounter intrusive advertisements that do not originate from your visited websites (these ads are often marked as "Ads by [adware name]", "[adware name] Ads", "Provided by [adware name]", and so on), we strongly advise you to uninstall all suspicious applications/browser plug-ins immediately.

There are dozens of scams similar to "Enter a product key". Examples include BLOCK Due To Suspicious Activities, Your Windows Licence Has Expired, Verify Windows, and many others. These viruses give the impression of legitimacy - the interface is very similar to MS Windows - and, therefore, victims are often tricked into paying.

In addition, developers of these scams often ignore victims, despite payments made - paying will not deliver any positive result and is equivalent to sending your money to cyber criminals (you will support their malicious businesses and lose your money).

How did Enter a product key install on my computer?

Adware is usually distributed using a deceptive marketing method called "bundling" - stealth installation of potentially unwanted programs with regular software.

Developers know that many users do not express enough caution when downloading and installing software and conceal bundled programs within the "Custom" or "Advanced" settings of these procedures. Rushing and skipping this section often leads to inadvertent installation of bogus software.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

The key to computer safety is caution. Potentially unwanted programs are often distributed using the bundling method. Therefore, you should never rush the download or installation processes. Select the "Custom/Advanced" settings and carefully analyze each step. Furthermore, opt-out of all additionally-included programs and never accept offers to download/install them.

  • Victims can bypass the fake activation by entering the "closecloseclosecloseclose" activation key. There is no need to call the Customer Support or buy a key.

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Quick menu:

"Enter a product key" virus removal:

Step 1

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer starting process press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Go to the Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click on Advanced Startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window select Advanced Startup. Click on the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into "Advanced Startup options menu".

Click on the "Troubleshoot" button, then click on "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen click on "Startup settings". Click on the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press "5" to boot in Safe Mode with Networking Prompt.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Step 2

Log in to the account infected with the Enter a product key "Your computer has been blocked" virus. Start your Internet browser and download a legitimate anti-spyware program. Update the anti-spyware software and start a full system scan. Remove all entries detected.

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking, try performing a System Restore.

Video showing how to remove ransomware virus using "Safe Mode with Command Prompt" and "System Restore":

1. During your computer starting process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until the Windows Advanced Options menu appears, and then select Safe Mode with Command Prompt from the list and press ENTER.

Boot your computer in Safe Mode with Command Prompt

2. When Command Prompt Mode loads, enter the following line: cd restore and press ENTER.

system restore using command prompt type cd restore

3. Next, type this line: rstrui.exe and press ENTER.

system restore using command prompt rstrui.exe

4. In the opened window, click "Next".

restore system files and settings

5. Select one of the available Restore Points and click "Next" (this will restore your computer system to an earlier time and date, prior to the Enter a product key ransomware virus infiltrating your PC).

select a restore point

6. In the opened window, click "Yes".

run system restore

7. After restoring your computer to a previous date, download and scan your PC with recommended malware removal software to eliminate any remnants of the Enter a product key "Your computer has been blocked up for safety reasons" virus.

If you cannot start your computer in Safe Mode with Networking (or with Command Prompt), boot your computer using a rescue disk. Some variants of ransomware disable Safe Mode making its removal complicated. For this step, you require access to another computer.

After removing "Your computer has been blocked up for safety reasons" virus from your PC, restart your computer and scan it with legitimate antispyware software to remove any possible remnants of this security infection.

Other tools known to remove the Enter a product key "Your computer has been blocked up for safety reasons" virus:

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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