Do not trust the "Microsoft Important Alert" technical support scam

Also Known As: Microsoft Important Alert tech support scam
Distribution: Low
Damage level: Medium

"Microsoft Important Alert" removal instructions

What is the "Microsoft Important Alert" scam?

"Microsoft Important Alert" is a a tech support scam, promoted on various deceptive webpages. At the time of research, this scheme had been promoted through the legitimate Amazon AWS (Amazon Web Services). The "Microsoft Important Alert" scam claims that users' computers have been infected with "Pornographic Spyware and riskware" and may be blocked to prevent further damage. It must be emphasized that not website can detect/report on threats or issues present in visitors' devices and the aforementioned scheme is not an exception to this. Additionally, this scam is in no way associated with the genuine Microsoft Corporation. These types of scams are designed to abuse users' trust in order to generate revenue for the scammers behind them. Deceptive sites are rarely accessed intentionally, visitors to them typically access them via mistyped URLs, redirects caused by intrusive advertisements or by PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications). This software does not need express permission to be installed onto systems; hence, users may be unaware of its presence of their devices.

Microsoft Important Alert scam

The "Microsoft Important Alert" scam urges users to call the provided telephone number immediately. This scheme states that if the alert is ignored and the page is closed - access to the visitor's device will be disabled, in order to prevent further damage to the network. Supposedly, the scammers were warned by the visitor's computer that it has been infected with malware (specifically, with pornographic spyware and riskware). Additionally, the scam lists information that is being stolen. Allegedly, users' communication account (email and Facebook) log-in credentials (i.e. usernames and passwords), credit card details and photographs stored on their computers - are in the process of being extracted. To remove the nonexistent infections, users are pushed once again to call the number. The "expert engineers" will aid with the removal process. As mentioned in the introduction, all of the information provided by "Microsoft Important Alert" is false. Trusting technical support scams can lead to a wide variety of issues. Firstly, the fake helplines are usually not toll-free (despite often being presented as such). Scammers typically attempt to gain remote access to their victims' devices. At best, they give bogus advice and cause no damage to the accessed computer. However, it is more common for scammers to remove legitimate anti-virus software and offer fake system protection/cleaning tools, infect devices with actual malware (e.g. trojans, ransomware, etc.), extract private/sensitive content stored within the system, and so on. One of the popular malware choices are RATs (Remote Access Trojans), which ensure stealthy (and potentially, indefinite) remote access and control over victims' computers. Furthermore, tech support scammers ask users to provide personal information themselves (e.g. names, addresses, emails, credit card and banking account details) - by requesting the information to be written down and/or entered into dubious sites that record provided data. The technical support "services" offered by scammers are never free and despite being worthless and/or harmful - tend to be ludicrously expensive. What is more, successfully scammed victims are frequently targeted repeatedly. To summarize, believing the "Microsoft Important Alert" scheme can result in system infections, financial losses, severe privacy issues and even identity theft. It may be impossible to exit a deceptive website by simply closing it; in such cases, the Windows Task Manager must be used to end the browser's process. The next time the browser is opened, it is important not to restore the previous browsing session - as doing so will reopen the scam site.

PUAs are one of the reasons users may experience rogue redirects to various deceptive and malicious webpages. However, these apps can have different/additional heinous abilities as well. Adware-types deliver intrusive adverts, which seriously diminish the browsing activity. Upon being clicked on, the delivered ads redirect to dangerous sites and some can even stealthily download/install software (e.g. PUAs). Browser hijackers are another type of PUAs, they operate by making modifications to browser settings and restricting/denying access to them - in order to promote fake search engines. The promoted web searchers are seldom capable of providing search results, so they redirect to legitimate search engines (e.g. Yahoo, Bing, Google, etc.). Most PUAs (regardless of type) spy on users' browsing activity. Data of interest includes: browsing and search engine histories, IP addresses, geolocations and other personally identifiable information. The collected data is then shared with and/or sold to third parties (potentially, cyber criminals). To ensure device integrity and user privacy, it is crucial to remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name Microsoft Important Alert tech support scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Computer is infected with malware and may be blocked to prevent further damage.
Disguise Microsoft
Tech Support Scammer Phone Number +1-888-257-2376
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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"ERROR # 0x6a4-0xf9fx3999", "Activation Failed! (Error Code 001)", "Windows Error Code: DLL011150", "Covid19 Warning Alert" - are some examples of other technical support scams. The Internet is rife with various schemes that use different models to lure potential victims. Popular scam models include (but are not limited to): warnings that the device is infected or at risk, alerts that an essential software product is outdated or missing, fake prize giveaways and raffles, unbelievable offers and deals. Regardless of how scams operate, the end-goal is the same - to generate revenue for the scammers / cyber criminals behind them. Therefore, it is strongly advised to exercise caution when browsing.

How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?

Select PUAs have "official" download pages, which are often promoted by deceptive/scam websites. These applications are also distributed via download/installation setups of other programs. This false marketing tactic is called "bundling". Rushed download/installation processes (e.g. ignored terms, used "Easy/Express" settings, etc.) - increase the risk of unintentionally allowing dubious and/or bundled content into the system. Intrusive advertisements proliferate PUAs as well. Once clicked on, the ads can execute scripts to download/install this software without user consent.

How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications?

It is recommended to research products prior to download/installation and/or purchase. All downloads must be done from official and verified sources. Since untrustworthy channels, e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders - commonly offer harmful and/or bundled content. When downloading/installing, it is important to read terms, explore all available options, use the "Custom/Advanced" settings and opt-out from additional apps, tools, features, and so forth. Intrusive adverts appear legitimate, however they redirect to various unreliable and questionable webpages (e.g. gambling, adult-dating, pornography, etc.). In case of encounters with such ads and/or redirects, the system must be inspected and all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins detected - immediately removed from it. If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

Text presented in "Microsoft Important Alert" scam:

** Microsoft Important Alert Alert **
ERROR # 0x6a4-0xf9fx3999(3)
Please call us immediately at:
+1-888-257-2376 (Toll Free)
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 riskware. The following information is being stolen...

 

1.Facebook Logins
2.Credit Card Details
3.Email Account Logins
4.Photos 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 and from any identity theft or information loss.
Call Windows : +1-888-257-2376 (Toll Free)

The appearance of "Microsoft Important Alert" pop-up scam (GIF):

Appearance of Microsoft Important Alert scam

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
▼ DOWNLOAD Malwarebytes 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 Malwarebytes. 14 days free trial available.

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:

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 microsoft important alert tech support scam, 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 microsoft important alert tech support scam 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 microsoft important alert tech support scam, 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.

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 microsoft important alert tech support scam, 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

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 microsoft important alert tech support scam 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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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

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

QR Code
Microsoft Important Alert tech support scam QR code
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