Prevent being scammed by websites that supposedly detect Activation Error 0xC004FC03

Also Known As: ERROR 0xC004FC03 virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

"Activation Error 0xC004FC03" removal instructions

What is "Activation Error 0xC004FC03"?

Activation Error 0xC004FC03 (or simply ERROR 0xC004FC03) is an error, which is supposedly caused by a virus. It is 'detected' by deceptive/scam websites and used to scare users into calling a fraudulent Microsoft technical support line and consequently trick them into paying for fake services. A genuine "Activation Error 0xC004FC03" error code exists, which is displayed when the Window OS (Operating System) fails activation, however, associated warnings found on web pages are not related to the error. No site is capable of detecting issues/threats on devices, and any claims to this effect are false. These rogue websites are usually opened by Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs) already present on the device. Note that these applications do not need explicit user permission to infiltrate systems. PUAs generate redirects to untrustworthy and malicious web pages, run intrusive advertisement campaigns, and monitor users' browsing activity.

Activation Error 0xC004FC03 scam

When the deceptive web page is opened, it displays a pop-up window that asks visitors to provide their name and password. It also claims to have detected 'suspicious activity' on the device due to a virus present on the system. For further assistance, a fake Microsoft tech support number is provided. Furthermore, users are informed that their data is in danger. The reason behind Activation Error 0xC004FC03 is allegedly a virus, which is responsible for a missing system file, thus causing Window OS (Operating System) to fail. The pop-up continues to urge visitors to call the "free" technical support number. Users are warned not to shutdown or restart their computers, as this will risk system failure and permanent data loss. The message ends with a final prompt to call the fake support line, while reinforcing that the number (+1-833-292-1252) is toll-free. These scams are created simply to generate revenue for their designers. They extort money from unsuspecting users. For example, any numbers listed can have high fees. Users might also be tricked into paying for bogus services and/or encouraged to purchase fake/nonfunctional or malicious software. If these rogue web pages cannot be closed in the usual way (by closing the browser tab/window), the browser process should be terminated using Task Manager. Before the browser is reopened, it is important not to restore the previous session, as failing to do so will reopen the scam web page (or cause the original site to repeat the redirect).

In general, PUAs are all quite similar, and some are even identical. They may seem legitimate and offer "useful" features/functions to entice users to install, however, these features rarely work as advertised and, in most cases, are nonfunctional. These applications have many unwanted and harmful capabilities. They generate redirects to sale-based, untrustworthy, compromised, deceptive/scam and even malicious websites. Some run intrusive ad campaigns (pop-ups, banners, surveys, coupons, etc.) by employing tools to enable third party graphical content to be displayed on any site. The ads they deliver diminish the browsing experience (overlay web page content) and also carry certain risks. Others hijack browsers and promote fake search engines. PUAs often have data tracking capabilities. They record browsing activity (browsing and search engine histories) and gather users' personal information (IP addresses, geolocations and other details). This sensitive data is then shared with third parties (potentially, cyber criminals) seeking to misuse it for financial gain. To summarize, unwanted apps can cause browser/system infiltration and infections, and lead to serious privacy issues, financial loss, even identity theft. To ensure device and user safety, remove all dubious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name Activation Error 0xC004FC03 pop-up scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud.
Fake Claim Cyber criminals pose as Microsoft company employees and claim that a virus error is responsible for a missing system file, thus causing system failure.
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +1-833-292-1252, +1-888-406-0642, +1-833-735-0218, +1-855-251-2882, +1-888-407-2892
Detection Names (onlinebookreading[.]site)
Kaspersky (Malware), Netcraft (Malicious), Sophos AV (Malicious), Fortinet (Phishing), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Fake error messages, fake system warnings, pop-up errors, hoax computer scan.
Distribution methods Compromised websites, rogue online pop-up ads, potentially unwanted applications.
Damage Loss of sensitive/private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Malwarebytes.
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There are many deceptive sites online. They typically share common traits, such as using scare-tactics to promote 'technical support' services and/or untrusted programs. These web pages show alerts/alarms concerning "detected" issues/threats and offer to provide tech support and/or software, supposedly able to remove the problems. ERROR # ER36dx9832(3)Norton Subscription Has Expired Today, and Windows Antivirus - Critical Alert are other examples of scams similar to Activation Error 0xC004FC03.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Some PUAs have "official" websites, from which they can often be downloaded "free". These apps also proliferate via the download/install set-ups of other programs. The deceptive marketing technique of pre-packing normal software with unwanted or malicious content is called "bundling". Rushing download/installation processes (e.g. using pre-set options, skipping steps, etc.) endangers devices with potential system infiltration and infections. Intrusive advertisements also proliferate PUAs. Once clicked, they can execute scripts to download/install unwanted content without users' consent.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

Research products to verify their legitimacy, before downloading/installing. Use only trustworthy and verified download channels. P2P sharing networks (BitTorrent, eMule, Gnutella, etc.), unofficial and free file-hosting sites, third party downloaders and similar sources are untrustworthy and should not be used. Treat download/Installation processes with caution. Read the terms, explore all possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and decline offers to download/install additional apps, tools, functions, etc. Care should be exercised when browsing. Intrusive ads usually seem legitimate and harmless, however, they can redirect to dubious web pages (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating and others). If you encounter ads/redirects of this kind, check the system and immediately remove all suspicious applications and/or browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Text presented in "Activation Error 0xC004FC03" pop-up:

Windows Security

Microsoft Edge

The server *** is asking for your user name and password.

That server also reports: "Suspicious activity detected due to harmful virus installed in your computer. Call Microsoft Toll Free now @ +1-833-292-1252 for any assistance. Your data is at a serious risk. There is a system file missing due to a harmful virus error, causing system failure. Please contact technicians at Microsoft Toll Free Helpline at @ +1-833-292-1252. PLEASE DO NOT SHUT DOWN OR RESTART YOUR COMPUTER, DOING THAT MAY LEAD TO DATA LOSS AND FAILURE OF OPERATING SYSTEM, HENCE NON BOOTABLE SITUATION RESULTING IN COMPLETE DATA LOSS. CONTACT MICROSOFT TO RESOLVE THE ISSUE ON TOLL FREE NUMBER: +1-833-292-1252".

Another variant of "Activation Error 0xC004FC03" pop-up scam:

Activation Error 0xC004FC03 pop-up scam

Another variant of "Activation Error 0xC004FC03" pop-up scam:

Activation Error 0xC004FC03 pop-up scam (sample 3)

Another variant of "Activation Error 0xC004FC03" pop-up scam:

Activation Error 0xC004FC03 pop-up scam

Yet another variant of "Activation Error 0xC004FC03" pop-up scam:

Activation Error 0xC004FC03 pop-up scam new variant

Appearance of this website (GIF):

Activation Error 0xC004FC03 pop-up scam new variant (GIF)

Text presented within this pop-up:

Windows Activation
Windows
Activation Error 0xC004FC03
We Can't activate Windows on this device because the product key was already used on another device. if you think it wasn't used on another device . enter below your registration key for troubleshoot
Error code: 0xC004FC03
Enter registration Key Submit
This product is licensed under the Microsoft Software License Terms to:

Call Microsoft Support +1-833-735-0218

Yet another variant of "Activation Error 0xC004FC03" pop-up scam (crooks are now providing "+1-855-251-2882" phone number):

Activation Error 0xC004FC03 pop-up scam

Yet another variant of "Activation Error 0xC004FC03" pop-up scam:

Activation Error 0xC004FC03 pop-up scam variant April 17, 2020

Yet another variant of "Activation Error 0xC004FC03" pop-up scam:

Activation Error 0xC004FC03 pop-up scam

Another variant of "Activation Error 0xC004FC03" pop-up scam:

Activation Error 0xC004FC03 POP-UP Scam (2020-08-24)

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Quick menu:

Removal of potentially unwanted applications:

Windows 7 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 7

Click Start (Windows Logo at the bottom left corner of your desktop), choose Control Panel. Locate Programs and click Uninstall a program.

Windows XP users:

Accessing Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP

Click Start, choose Settings and click Control Panel. Locate and click Add or Remove Programs.

Windows 10 and Windows 8 users:

Accessing Programs and Features (uninstall) in Windows 8

Right-click in the lower left corner of the screen, in the Quick Access Menu select Control Panel. In the opened window choose Programs and Features.

Mac OSX users:

Uninstall app in OSX (Mac)

Click Finder, in the opened screen select Applications. Drag the app from the Applications folder to the Trash (located in your Dock), then right click the Trash icon and select Empty Trash.

PUAs uninstall via Control Panel

In the uninstall programs window, look for any suspicious/recently-installed applications, select these entries and click "Uninstall" or "Remove".

After uninstalling the potentially unwanted application, scan your computer for any remaining unwanted components or possible malware infections. To scan your computer, use recommended malware removal software.

Remove rogue extensions from Internet browsers:

Video showing how to remove potentially unwanted browser add-ons:

Internet Explorer logoRemove malicious add-ons from Internet Explorer:

Removing rogue extensions from Internet Explorer step 1

Click the "gear" icon Internet Explorer options icon (at the top right corner of Internet Explorer), select "Manage Add-ons". Look for any recently-installed suspicious browser extensions, select these entries and click "Remove".

Removing rogue extensions from Internet Explorer step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the error 0xc004fc03 virus, reset your Internet Explorer settings to default.

Windows XP users: Click Start, click Run, in the opened window type inetcpl.cpl In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows XP

Windows Vista and Windows 7 users: Click the Windows logo, in the start search box type inetcpl.cpl and click enter. In the opened window click the Advanced tab, then click Reset.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 7

Windows 8 users: Open Internet Explorer and click the gear icon. Select Internet Options.

Reseting Internet Explorer settings to default in Windows 8 - accessing

In the opened window, select the Advanced tab.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - Internet options advanced tab

Click the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - click the Reset button in the Internet options advanced tab

Confirm that you wish to reset Internet Explorer settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Resetting Internet Explorer settings to default on Windows 8 - confirm settings reset to default by clicking the reset button

Google Chrome logoRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Removing rogue extensions from Google Chrome step 1

Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome), select "More tools" and click "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and remove them.

Removing rogue extensions from Google Chrome step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the error 0xc004fc03 virus, reset your Google Chrome browser settings. Click the Chrome menu icon Google Chrome menu icon (at the top right corner of Google Chrome) and select Settings. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen. Click the Advanced… link.

Google Chrome settings reset step 1

After scrolling to the bottom of the screen, click the Reset (Restore settings to their original defaults) button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 2

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Google Chrome settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Google Chrome settings reset step 3

Mozilla Firefox logoRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Removing rogue extensions from Mozilla Firefox step 1

Click the Firefox menu firefox menu icon (at the top right corner of the main window), select "Add-ons". Click on "Extensions", in the opened window remove all recently-installed suspicious browser plug-ins.

Removing rogue extensions from Mozilla Firefox step 2

Optional method:

Computer users who have problems with error 0xc004fc03 virus removal can reset their Mozilla Firefox settings.

Open Mozilla Firefox, at the top right corner of the main window, click the Firefox menu, firefox menu icon in the opened menu, click Help.

Accessing settings (Reset Firefox to default settings step 1)

Select Troubleshooting Information.

Accessing Troubleshooting Information (Reset Firefox to default settings step 2)

In the opened window, click the Refresh Firefox button.

Clicking on Refresh Firefox button (Reset Firefox to default settings step 3)

In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Mozilla Firefox settings to default by clicking the Refresh Firefox button.

Confirm your want to reset Firefox settings to default (Reset Firefox to default settings step 4)

safari browser logoRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

removing adware from safari step 1 - accessing preferences

Make sure your Safari browser is active, click Safari menu, and select Preferences....

removing adware from safari step 2 - removing extensions

In the opened window click Extensions, locate any recently installed suspicious extension, select it and click Uninstall.

Optional method:

Make sure your Safari browser is active and click on Safari menu. From the drop down menu select Clear History and Website Data...

resetting safari step 1

In the opened window select all history and click the Clear History button.

resetting safari step 2

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) logoRemove malicious extensions from Microsoft Edge:

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 1

Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the upper-right corner of Microsoft Edge), select "Extensions". Locate all recently-installed suspicious browser add-ons and click "Remove" below their names.

Removing adware from Microsoft Edge step 2

Optional method:

If you continue to have problems with removal of the error 0xc004fc03 virus, reset your Microsoft Edge browser settings. Click the Edge menu icon Microsoft Edge (chromium) menu icon (at the top right corner of Microsoft Edge) and select Settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 1

In the opened settings menu select Reset settings.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 2

Select Restore settings to their default values. In the opened window, confirm that you wish to reset Microsoft Edge settings to default by clicking the Reset button.

Microsoft Edge (Chromium) reset step 3

  • If this did not help, follow these alternative instructions explaining how to reset the Microsoft Edge browser.

Summary:

declining installation of adware while downloading free software sampleCommonly, adware or potentially unwanted applications infiltrate Internet browsers through free software downloads. Note that the safest source for downloading free software is via developers' websites only. To avoid installation of adware, be very attentive when downloading and installing free software. When installing previously-downloaded free programs, choose the custom or advanced installation options – this step will reveal any potentially unwanted applications listed for installation together with your chosen free program.

Removal assistance:
If you are experiencing problems while trying to remove error 0xc004fc03 virus from your computer, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

Post a comment:
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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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Removal Instructions in other languages
Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
ERROR 0xC004FC03 virus QR code
A QR code (Quick Response Code) is a machine-readable code which stores URLs and other information. This code can be read using a camera on a smartphone or a tablet. Scan this QR code to have an easy access removal guide of ERROR 0xC004FC03 virus on your mobile device.
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