Windows Activation Scam and Fake Tech Support
WINDOWS NOT GENUINE SCAM
There is a fairly new scam hitting Microsoft Windows users in the form of a fake Windows activation splash screen. If you have ever purchased a new laptop and needed to activate your copy of Windows, you may have seen this popup or a similar one before depending on the operating system version you are running:
The scam is to present a popup similar to this one leading to malware if you click the link, and upon inspection you'll notice that your copy of Windows is actually genuine.
To check if your Windows copy is genuine and activated, follow these steps:
- Open the Windows Start menu by clicking the Windows icon in the lower left hand corner of your screen, or alternately pressing the Windows button on your keyboard (located between the CTRL and ALT keys).
- Depending on your version of Windows, you will then want to right click on the menu option that says "This PC", "My PC", or "[My] Computer". Click on Properties at the bottom of the menu that appears.
- This will display a screen with details about your computer. Check at the bottom under "Windows activation" and you should see right away if your copy is genuine and activated or not. See the screenshot below.
Fake popups may also display a phone number to call for "Microsoft Support" to help activate your operating system. This is another version of the widespread fake tech support scam that has been going around for a few years now.
These ads are caused by an adware program that somehow made it onto your computer. Usually these come packaged with free software such as download managers, PDF creators/editors, games, etc. Always be on alert when installing new software, especially from an unfamiliar website, and opt for the custom installation option to deselect any programs or add-ons that you are not familiar with to avoid this situation. If you've become infected, malwaretips.com has a guide on how to remove this specific malware.
Fake tech support scam
While we're on the subject, the fake tech support scam is something every computer user needs to be aware of. It has been increasingly common over the last few years but unfortunately there are still those unaware keeping these scam artists in business.
This con comes in many flavors, but the common theme is an unexpected popup or splash screen on your computer or within an internet browser alerting you that viruses/errors/suspicious activity/security threats have been detected on your computer and you need to call the number or install the software displayed immediately to fix the issues.
Unless you have paid for a service specifically for this monitoring, there is no company out there who is watching your computer for errors like this. The sheer amount of manpower dedicated solely to this task would be overwhelming and not profitable for any business without being paid for this service.
Calling the number displayed on screen will connect you with a fake support person whose job is to scam you out of as much money as you're willing to give, while convincing you he is fixing the problems (not!). He is also likely to be installing more malware on your machine and/or opening up remote access so he can spy on your computer whenever he likes.
Here are a few examples of these fake alerts:
Always be alert when using your computer and browsing the internet. A few moments of research and hesitation can save you many hours of trouble and possibly even your hard-earned cash.