Avoid getting scammed by "Activation Warning Alert"

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

"Activation Warning Alert" pop-up scam removal instructions

What is "Activation Warning Alert"?

"Activation Warning Alert" is a scam run by rogue webpages. It warns users of threats present on their device, supposedly detected by Windows Security. It must be emphasized that this scheme has no actual connection to Microsoft. This scam urges users to call a fake technical support number, as well as share their Windows account and operating system details. Most visitors to deceptive websites, which run "Activation Warning Alert" and similar scams, usually access them inadvertently. They get redirected by intrusive adverts or by PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications), already infiltrated into the device.

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When a "Activation Warning Alert" scam webpage is visited, the first thing users see is a pop-up window. The text presented in this window states that the server is requesting their username and password to be provided. The pop-up claims that this server has found suspicious activity, originating from a harmful virus. It alleges that a system file is missing, due to this - system failure is imminent. Users are instructed to call an illegitimate Microsoft Helpline, which is "toll-free". The message further scares users that restarting/rebooting the computer will result in partial or full data loss and utter failure of the system. Above the fields, wherein users' are to provide their account details, it is written that their credentials will be sent using basic authentication on a connection that is not secure. Another pop-up on the right of the page informs users that "Windows Activation Error 0xC004FC03" has occurred. Said error is preventing Windows activation, as the product key has been used for another device (it is implied that users are using a pirated version or their activation key has been used for piracy purposes). The window states that if users believe this is not the case, they can enter their Windows activation key and retry activation. The background page instructs not to ignore this critical alert and call the provided number. It attempts to prevent users from closing the deceptive site, by proclaiming that doing so will result in access to the computer being disabled. The fake threat behind this error is allegedly a "pornographic Spyware and virus". To increase users' alarm, the scam informs them that communication and social media account logins/passwords, financial account credentials and other important data is being stolen. This can be avoided, if users call the technical support, which will provide assistance with the threat removal. Schemes like "Activation Warning Alert" are designed solely for the purpose of generating revenue for the cyber criminals behind them. This can accomplished in a variety of ways. For example, the fraudulent tech support number can have high fees, even if it is claimed otherwise. Additionally, users may be charged for fake services rendered. They can also be pushed into downloading/installing/purchasing untrustworthy or malicious content. Any websites that claim to detect threats/issues present in visitors' devices cannot be trusted, as no website can perform such detections. If a scam webpage cannot be exited by closing the browser tab/window, the Task Manager should be used to terminate the browser process. However, when reopening the browser, users should not restore the previous session. If it is restored, then the deceptive site will be reopened as well (or one that initially redirected to the scam).

As mentioned in the introduction, deceptive/scam sites are typically accessed via redirects caused by PUAs. These apps often look legitimate and entice users into installation with offers of "useful" and "beneficial" features/functions. Rarely do the features work as promised and in most cases - they are utterly nonoperational. Instead of working as advertised, unwanted applications generate redirects to various untrustworthy and malicious pages, run intrusive advertisement campaigns, hijack browsers and track sensitive data. The latter ability is possessed by most PUAs, regardless of their other specifications. These apps monitor users' browsing activity and gather their personal information (IP addresses, geolocations and real-life personal details). This private data can then be shared with third parties (not unlikely, cyber criminals), intent on misusing it for financial gain. To summarize, PUAs can lead to browser/system infiltrations and infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses and even identity theft. To ensure device and user safety - all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins must be removed immediately.

Threat Summary:
Name possible malware infections
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam claims visitors device is infected and Windows activation has failed.
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +61-1800-952-354 and 844-545-5419
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.
Removal

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"Call Microsoft Helpline", "Microsoft Protected Your Computer", "VIRAL ALARM OF MICROSOFT" are a few example of scams similar to "Activation Warning Alert". These schemes tend to use scare-tactics and social engineering to push visitors into performing specific actions. For example, scams can trick users into calling fraudulent technical support, paying for imaginary services, downloading/installing and/or purchasing dubious software, etc. It is expressly advised against trusting the claims of such webpages. They must be ignored and left without delay.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

PUAs spread through download/install setups of other programs. This false marketing method of pre-packing ordinary products with unwanted or malicious content is called "bundling". Rushed download/installation processes (e.g. skipped steps, used presets, etc.) - increase the risk of potential system infiltrations and infections. Some unwanted apps also "official" download pages. When clicked, intrusive advertisements can execute scripts to download/install PUAs, without user permission.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is recommended to always research content, before downloading/installing it. Only official and verified download sources should be used. Peer-to-Peer sharing networks (BitTorrent, Gnutella, eMule, etc.), free file-hosting sites and other third party downloaders are considered to be untrustworthy; therefore are advised against use. When downloading/installing, users should read terms, explore all possible options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out from additional apps, tools, functions and so on. Intrusive adverts usually appear legitimate and harmless, however they redirect to various questionable websites (e.g. gambling, adult-dating, pornography, etc.). In case of encounters with ads/redirects of this type, it is strongly advised to inspect the device and immediately remove all suspect applications and/or browser extensions/plug-ins. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Spyhunter for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Text presented in "Activation Warning Alert" scam's initial pop-up:

Windows Security
Microsoft Edge
This server ***.***.**.** is asking for your username and password.

That server also reports: "Suspicious activity detected due to harmful virus installed in your computer. Call Microsoft Toll Free now @ +61-1800-952-354 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 @ +61-1800-952-354. 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: +61-1800-952-354"

Warning: Your username and password will be sent using basic authentication on a connection that isn't secure.

Text presented in the other 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: 0xC004C020

This product is licensed under the Microsoft Software License Terms to:
Call Windows Support +61-1800-572-285

 Text presented in the background page of "Activation Warning Alert" scam:

Security Warning:

** Activation Warning Alert **


Error # 0xC004FC03


Please call us immediately at: 844-545-5419
Do not ignore this critical alert.
If you close this page, your computer access will be disabled to prevent further damage to our network.
Your computer has alerted us that it has been infected with a Pornographic Spyware and virus. The following information is being stolen:

1.Facebook  Logins
2.Credit  Card  Details
3.Email  Account  Logins
4.Photos and documents  stored  on this computer

You must contact us immediately so that our expert engineers can walk you through the removal  process over the phone to protect your identity. Please call us within the next 5 minutes to prevent your  computer from being disabled or from any information loss.

Call Microsoft Windows Support
+61-1800-572-285 (Toll FREE)

Instant automatic removal of possible malware infections: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Spyhunter is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of possible malware infections. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Spyhunter By downloading any software listed on this website you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. Free scanner checks if your computer is infected. To remove malware, you have to purchase the full version of Spyhunter.

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 possible malware infections, 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 possible malware infections, 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 plugins 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 possible malware infections 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 possible malware infections, 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 possible malware infections from your computer, please ask for assistance in our malware support forum.

Post a comment:
If you have additional information on possible malware infections or it's removal please share your knowledge in the comments section below.

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
possible malware infections 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 possible malware infections on your mobile device.
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