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How to avoid the Call Apple Helpline scam

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

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.
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To use full-featured product, you have to purchase a license for Combo Cleaner. Limited seven days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

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 seven days free trial available. Combo Cleaner is owned and operated by Rcs Lt, the parent company of PCRisk.com read more.

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 macOS.

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 macOS) - 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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