Virus Support Alert POP-UP Scam

Also Known As: "Virus Support Alert" virus
Damage level: Medium

What is "Virus Support Alert"?

"Virus Support Alert" is a fake virus alert that is displayed in a pop-up window on a deceptive, dubious website. This is simply a scam that cyber criminals use to trick people into believing that their computers are infected and blocked.

Most people arrive at this untrustworthy website due to potentially unwanted apps (PUAs) installed on their computers or web browsers. In addition to redirects, PUAs deliver advertisements and collect user-system information.

Virus Support Alert scam

According to this deceptive website (and its associated pop-up window), the system has detected unusual activity that might harm the computer and data stored on it, and that the activity might be related to tracking of financial information. Furthermore, within the "Virus Support Alert" pop-up window, scammers claim that the user's computer/registration key is blocked.

They state that this happened for one of these reasons: the Windows registration key is illegal; there is illegal software installed; the operating system is infected and proliferates viruses over the internet, or; the Windows Operating System is hacked and being used from an undefined location.

In any case, scammers claim that they have blocked the computer for security reasons (and users' safety). They urge website visitors not to close the window or restart the computer. Scammers encourage users to contact them by calling the "+1-866-391-4111" number. They claim to be a 'support team' that will help to reactivate the computer/registration key.

Websites of this type should never be trusted. Typically, when contacted, scammers attempt to sell software or trick people into paying for online services. They use these scams to extort money from innocent people. None of the statements on this website are accurate and anyone who visits it should simply close it.

If this website cannot be closed in the normal way (by closing the opened tab or browser window), use Task Manager to end the browser process. The next time a browser is opened, the previous browsing session should not be restored, since this will reopen the dubious website or another website that caused a redirect to it.

As mentioned above, PUAs that are responsible for redirects to untrustworthy websites, however, they often deliver ads and gather data as well. Unwanted apps of this type serve users with coupons, banners, surveys, pop-ups, and so on. These ads can be annoying, since PUAs display them via tools that enable placement of third party content on any site.

Therefore, they conceal underlying content of visited websites. Furthermore, if clicked (accidentally or willingly), they usually open dubious (potentially, malicious) websites or run scripts that download and install even more unwanted apps. Another negative aspect of PUAs is information tracking.

Usually PUAs collect IP addresses, URLs of visited websites, search queries, geo-locations, and other data relating to browsing activity. It is also possible that these apps will record personal/sensitive details. Developers share the data with third parties (cyber criminals) who misuse it to generate revenue.

Threat Summary:
Name "Virus Support Alert" 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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Most PUAs have similar behavior - they perform actions that allow their developers to generate revenue. Furthermore, they are usually promoted as useful and legitimate, however, they provide none of the functionality promised (tools, features, and so on). Furthermore, the the internet is full of deceptive websites that display scams such as fake virus alerts, fake errors, and so on.

Some examples of other scams similar to this one are "ERROR 0X1CXX560", "Windows Is Not Activated", and "Activate Your Windows Now". Most are used by cyber criminals who attempt to extort money from visitors by offering purchase of software or paid services.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Some PUAs can be downloaded from their websites, however, most people do not download and install them intentionally. This usually occurs when developers trick them by using a deceptive marketing method called "bundling". This method helps developers to cause inadvertent downloads and installations when users download or install their chosen software.

They include (bundle) unwanted apps in set-ups of regular software (software that people download willingly).

All information about the inclusion of extra apps is usually hidden in "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar settings of the download/installation set-ups. Most people leave these settings unchanged, thereby causing unwanted installations/downloads of various PUAs .

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

Always pay attention to all download/installation processes, especially if the software it is free. Check all available "Custom", "Advanced" and other similar options/settings, and look for checkboxes that are ticked by default. Deselect offers to install unwanted software. Download software using direct links and official websites.

Avoid using third party software downloaders/installers, since they are usually monetized via the bundling method and go on to install unwanted programs. Do not use unofficial websites or Peer-to-peer networks (torrent clients, eMule, and others). Do not click intrusive ads, especially if they are displayed on dubious websites.

These usually seem legitimate, however, they redirect to untrustworthy websites such as adult dating, pornography, gambling, and so on. If a browser causes unwanted redirects or displays various ads, PUAs might be installed on it. Check the list of installed extensions, add-ons, and plug-ins, and remove all unwanted/suspicious apps immediately.

Also check the list of programs installed on the operating system. 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 "Virus Support Alert" pop-up:

Virus Support Alert
Your System Detected Some Unusual Activity.
It might harm your computer data and track your financial activities.
Please report this activity to +1-866-391-4111
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?
This 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 helpline to reactivate your computer.
Enter Windows registration key to unblock or Call Support at: +1-866-391-4111 (Toll-Free)

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.

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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