Microsoft Security Tollfree POP-UP Scam

Also Known As: "Microsoft Security Tollfree" virus
Damage level: Medium

What is Microsoft Security Tollfree?

In most cases, the "Microsoft Security Tollfree" fake virus alert message appears when users end up visiting deceptive/untrustworthy websites. Potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) often force users to visit these websites. PUAs are usually installed without users' knowledge, cause redirects, collect data, and deliver intrusive advertisements.

There are plenty of scams similar to "Microsoft Security Tollfree". Some examples are We Couldn't Activate Windows, Your System Data Has Been Compromized, and Windows Support Alert.

Microsoft Security Tollfree scam

Once a deceptive website is visited, it asks users for permission to download multiple files. Do not give permission. Click "Block" or another similar button. The website also displays a message stating that the computer is blocked and that Microsoft itself urges you to do not restart your computer or close the opened window. It states that your computer registration key is blocked.

It explains that this might have happened due to one of the following reasons: the Windows registration key is illegal; the opened window is using pirated software; the window is proliferating viruses; the window is hacked or is being used from undefined location.

According to scammers, the computer is blocked for your security and you should contact Microsoft Security support team via the telephone number "+1-844-391-8111" provided. These statements are false. Your computer is not blocked and Windows is not using an illegal key.

"Microsoft Security Tollfree" has nothing to do with Microsoft - it is a scam used to trick users into purchasing products or services that will supposedly solve the problem (unblock your computer, remove viruses, activate Windows, and so on). You are strongly advised to ignore all requests made by these scammers and to simply close the opened window.

If the website prevents you from closing it (a particular script is used), then restart your computer and do not restore the previous session (this opens identical deceptive websites or the websites that led you there).

As we mentioned in our introduction, potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) often redirect users to untrustworthy websites, including those containing fake messages.

Furthermore, PUAs deliver intrusive ads (pop-ups, banners, coupons, surveys, etc.) that are displayed through tools that enable placement of third party graphical content on any site and conceal underlying content. These are annoying, but can also lead to untrustworthy websites and even execute scripts that download and install other PUAs.

These unwanted apps collect IP addresses, keystrokes, URLs of visited websites, search queries, geo-locations, and other data that might include personal or sensitive details. Information is shared with third parties (potentially cyber criminals) who misuse it to generate revenue.

These actions might cause privacy/browsing safety problems or even result in identity theft. We strongly recommend that you uninstall all PUAs immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name "Microsoft Security Tollfree" virus
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of one's computer.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Many scammers use various fake messages (support alerts, viruses, errors, and so on) to trick users into paying for services or products that they do not need. Most of these scams are very similar - they display fake messages stating that the system is infiltrated by a virus infection, the computer is blocked, users' data is in danger, etc.

Most PUAs that cause visits to these websites are also very similar - they generate revenue for their developers by collecting and sharing data, delivering intrusive ads, and causing unwanted redirects. As a rule, PUAs are promoted as 'useful apps', however, few provide the functionality promised.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

PUAs are often installed without users' knowledge. Users install them through clicked intrusive advertisements or when software developers use a deceptive marketing method called "bundling" - stealth installation of potentially unwanted applications or other software with regular third party software.

Developers avoid disclosing information about the presence of bundled applications and hide them in "Advanced", "Custom" and other options/settings of the installation processes. Frequently, PUAs are installed when users install software without checking additional options/settings or clicking intrusive ads.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Avoid downloading software from untrustworthy/unofficial sources, or using torrents or third party software downloaders. Use direct links, official and trustworthy websites only. Do not to skip installation steps without checking "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar settings or options.

Opt-out of any additionally-included/bundled software, and only then proceed to the next step or finish the installation. Cyber criminals invest many resources into intrusive ad design, and so it is often difficult to determine which are legitimate.

Untrustworthy intrusive ads usually redirect to untrustworthy/potentially malicious websites (such as gambling, pornography, adult dating, and so on). If you encounter these advertisements, check installed applications (extensions, add-ons, and plug-ins) on your browser and remove any unknown/unwanted entries immediately.

If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Text presented in "Microsoft Security Tollfree" pop-up:

Microsoft Security Tollfree: +1-844-391-8111
This computer is BLOCKED
Do not close this window and restart your computer
Your computer's registration key is BLOCKED
Why we blocked your computer?
The window's registration key is illegal.
This window is using pirated software.
This window is sending virus over the internet.
This window is hacked or used from undefined location.
We block this computer for your security.
Contact Microsoft helpline to reactivate your computer.

The appearance of "Microsoft Security Tollfree" pop-up (GIF):

Microsoft Security Tollfree scam gif

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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Quick menu:

How to identify a pop-up scam?

Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.

While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.

Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:

  • Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
  • Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
  • Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
  • Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
  • Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.

Example of a pop-up scam:

Example of a pop-up scam

How do pop-up scams work?

Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.

Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.

How to remove fake pop-ups?

In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.

In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.

How to prevent fake pop-ups?

To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.

To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?

This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.

  • If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
  • If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
  • If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
  • Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.

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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.

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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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