How to avoid the Call Apple Helpline scam

Also Known As: "Call Apple Helpline" pop-up
Type: Mac Virus
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

How to stop your browser from opening the "Call Apple Helpline" scam web page on Mac computers

What is "Call Apple Helpline"?

"Call Apple Helpline" is the name of a scam distributed through a deceptive website, which is disguised as an official Apple Support site. The main purpose of this scam is to trick people into believing that their operating systems are infected with viruses, so that they call scammers via the telephone number provided. Do not trust scam websites, download software from them, or call the displayed numbers. These sites are commonly opened through potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) installed on browsers and/or operating systems (people do not open them intentionally).

Call Apple Helpline scam

Once opened, this scam page enables a pop-up window stating that Mac OS X is infected with viruses and other malware. Visitors are encouraged to remove them immediately by contacting the "Apple Helpline" via the +1-888-670-0905 number provided. The background page states that the operating system is infected with three viruses: two malware and one phishing/spyware. It states that these threats can cause damage, such as loss of apps, photos, files and put personal and banking information at risk. Visitors are encouraged to call the aforementioned telephone number immediately. If not, the operating system will remain damaged and vulnerable. We advise against calling any numbers provided on this, or similar, web pages. It is likely that scammers behind them will try to extort money by offering the use of paid services, or urging people to purchase dubious software to supposedly remove the fake viruses and malicious apps. The best option is to simply close this scam website and avoid visiting it again. If it cannot be closed normally, use Activity Monitor by terminating the browser process. To avoid ending up on this web page again, do not  restore the previously closed session the next time a browser is opened.

Typically, browsers open these sites automatically when PUAs are installed. Apps of this type often gather browsing data and display ads. They record details such as IP addresses, geolocations, entered search queries, addresses of visited pages, and so on. They can also gather sensitive, private information. Developers share the data with third parties (potentially cyber criminals) who misuse it to generate revenue. This might cause problems with browsing safety, online privacy, or even lead to more serious issues such as identity theft. Many PUAs serve ads. For example, coupons, banners, surveys, pop-up ads, etc. These conceal underlying content of visited pages and, if clicked, open potentially malicious pages or execute scripts designed to download and/or install unwanted software.

Threat Summary:
Name "Call Apple Helpline" pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Mac malware, Mac virus.
Fake Claim According to this scam page, the operating system of the visitor's computer is infected with viruses.
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +1-888-670-0905, +1-888-722-0082
Symptoms Your Mac becomes slower than normal, you see unwanted pop-up ads, you are redirected to dubious websites.
Distribution methods Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers, torrent file downloads.
Damage Internet browser tracking (potential privacy issues), display of unwanted ads, redirects to dubious websites, loss of private information.
Malware Removal (Mac)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your Mac with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
▼ Download Combo Cleaner for Mac
To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited three days free trial available.

There are many other examples of scam pages, including "Fake Software Update", "Dear Safari User, You Are Today's Lucky Visitor", and "Your Mac/iOS may be infected with 5 viruses!". Typically, these sites are designed to trick people into calling scammers or into downloading/installing dubious software. In any case, none can be trusted. The same applies to PUAs, which are often responsible for opening these pages. Most are advertised as legitimate, useful applications, however, in most cases, they simply open dubious web pages, display ads, and gather data.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

In most cases, people download and/or install PUAs unintentionally, when the apps are included into the download/installation set-ups of other software. Offers to download and install additional apps can usually be found in "Custom", "Advanced", and other similar settings of the set-ups. This distribution method of potentially unwanted software is called "bundling". It works effectively when people leave settings unchanged, thereby agreeing by default with offers to download and/or install unwanted apps through the set-ups of regular software. PUAs can also be downloaded/installed through clicked intrusive ads, some of which go on to run certain scripts.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications

Download software from official websites and avoid third party downloaders, installers, Peer-to-Peer networks (torrent clients, eMule, and so on), unofficial websites, or other similar channels to download or install. Download and install software properly: check all download and installation settings and dismiss any offers to download/install unwanted apps. Do not click intrusive ads, especially those displayed on dubious websites. Once clicked, these ads open other dubious, potentially malicious pages or start unwanted downloads and installations. Check the list of extensions, add-ons, and plug-ins installed on the browser and remove all unknown, suspicious apps immediately. The same should be applied to software of this kind installed on the operating system. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.

Text presented in pop-up window:

WARNING!

MAC OS X is infected with Viruses and other malicious applications. Viruses must be removed and system damage repaired.

It is necessary to run the Virus removal procedure immediately, please proceed.

**If you leave this site your Mac OS X will remain damaged and vulnerable**

Call Apple Helpline +1-888-670-0905 (Toll Free)

Text presented in background page:

+1-888-670-0905 (Support Toll Free)

Your system is infected with (3) Viruses!

Your Mac OS X is infected with (3) Viruses. The pre-scan found traces of (2) malware and (1) phishing/spyware. System damage: 28.1% - Immediate removal required!

Please Call Apple Support +1-888-670-0905
The removal of (3) Viruses is required immediately to prevent further system damage, loss of Apps, Photos or other files.

Traces of (1) Phishing/Spyware were found on your Mac OS X. Personal and banking information are at risk.

1 minutes and 13 seconds

Call +1-888-670-0905

Another variant of "Call Apple Helpline" pop-up scam:

Call Apple Helpline pop-up scam variant 2

Instant automatic Mac malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of Mac malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Combo Cleaner for Mac By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited three days free trial available.

Quick menu:

Video showing how to remove unwanted applications (which redirect to websites displaying "Call Apple Helpline" pop-ups) using Combo Cleaner:

Potentially unwanted applications removal:

Remove potentially unwanted applications from your "Applications" folder:

mac browser hijacker removal from applications folder

Click the Finder icon. In the Finder window, select "Applications". In the applications folder, look for "MPlayerX", "NicePlayer", or other suspicious applications and drag them to the Trash. After removing the potentially unwanted application(s) that cause online ads, scan your Mac for any remaining unwanted components.

Remove "call apple helpline" pop-up related files and folders:

Finder go to folder command

Click the Finder icon, from the menu bar. Choose Go, and click Go to Folder...

step1Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/LaunchAgents folder:

removing adware from launch agents folder step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/LaunchAgents

removing adware from launch agents folder step 2
In the “LaunchAgents” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious files and move them to the Trash. Examples of files generated by adware - “installmac.AppRemoval.plist”, “myppes.download.plist”, “mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist”, “kuklorest.update.plist”, etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the same string.

step2Check for adware generated files in the /Library/Application Support folder:

removing adware from application support folder step 1

In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/Application Support

removing adware from application support folder step 2
In the “Application Support” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious folders. For example, “MplayerX” or “NicePlayer”, and move these folders to the Trash.

step3Check for adware-generated files in the ~/Library/LaunchAgents folder:

removing adware from ~launch agents folder step 1


In the Go to Folder bar, type: ~/Library/LaunchAgents

removing adware from ~launch agents folder step 2

In the “LaunchAgents” folder, look for any recently-added suspicious files and move them to the Trash. Examples of files generated by adware - “installmac.AppRemoval.plist”, “myppes.download.plist”, “mykotlerino.ltvbit.plist”, “kuklorest.update.plist”, etc. Adware commonly installs several files with the same string.

step4Check for adware-generated files in the /Library/LaunchDaemons folder:

removing adware from launch daemons folder step 1
In the Go to Folder... bar, type: /Library/LaunchDaemons

removing adware from launch daemons folder step 2
In the “LaunchDaemons” folder, look for recently-added suspicious files. For example “com.aoudad.net-preferences.plist”, “com.myppes.net-preferences.plist”, "com.kuklorest.net-preferences.plist”, “com.avickUpd.plist”, etc., and move them to the Trash.

step 5 Scan your Mac with Combo Cleaner:

If you have followed all the steps in the correct order you Mac should be clean of infections. To be sure your system is not infected run a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus. Download it HERE. After downloading the file double click combocleaner.dmg installer, in the opened window drag and drop Combo Cleaner icon on top of the Applications icon. Now open your launchpad and click on the Combo Cleaner icon. Wait until Combo Cleaner updates it's virus definition database and click "Start Combo Scan" button.

scan-with-combo-cleaner-1

Combo Cleaner will scan your Mac for malware infections. If the antivirus scan displays "no threats found" - this means that you can continue with the removal guide, otherwise it's recommended to remove any found infections before continuing.

scan-with-combo-cleaner-2

After removing files and folders generated by the adware, continue to remove rogue extensions from your Internet browsers.

"Call Apple Helpline" pop-up removal from Internet browsers:

safari browser iconRemove malicious extensions from Safari:

Remove "call apple helpline" pop-up related Safari extensions:

safari browser preferences

Open Safari browser, from the menu bar, select "Safari" and click "Preferences...".

safari extensions window

In the preferences window, select "Extensions" and look for any recently-installed suspicious extensions. When located, click the "Uninstall" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Safari browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Safari.

firefox browser iconRemove malicious plug-ins from Mozilla Firefox:

Remove "call apple helpline" pop-up related Mozilla Firefox add-ons:

accessing mozilla firefox add-ons

Open your Mozilla Firefox browser. At the top right corner of the screen, click the "Open Menu" (three horizontal lines) button. From the opened menu, choose "Add-ons".

removing malicious add-ons from mozilla firefox

Choose the "Extensions" tab and look for any recently-installed suspicious add-ons. When located, click the "Remove" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Mozilla Firefox browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Mozilla Firefox.

chrome-browser-iconRemove malicious extensions from Google Chrome:

Remove "call apple helpline" pop-up related Google Chrome add-ons:

removing malicious google chrome extensions step 1

Open Google Chrome and click the "Chrome menu" (three horizontal lines) button located in the top-right corner of the browser window. From the drop-down menu, choose "More Tools" and select "Extensions".

removing malicious Google Chrome extensions step 2

In the "Extensions" window, look for any recently-installed suspicious add-ons. When located, click the "Trash" button next to it/them. Note that you can safely uninstall all extensions from your Google Chrome browser - none are crucial for normal browser operation.

  • If you continue to have problems with browser redirects and unwanted advertisements - Reset Google Chrome.

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
Call Apple Helpline pop-up 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 "Call Apple Helpline" pop-up on your mobile device.
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Platform: macOS

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