We receive many calls from customers inquiring about a strange pop-up that locks their screen and instructs them that their computer has been compromised. The pop-up gives instructions to call a toll-free number immediately. These warnings might appear to be part of your operating system, but actually, they are not.

Don’t do it! Don’t call the number. This is a sophisticated hacking scam that uses skilled con tactics to reach into your pocket and steal not only your hard-earned money – These criminals can also steal your banking information and lock you out of your computer.

Unfortunately, most people who have called the number provided have been victims of the following:

Hackers access their computer remotely
Exorbitant fees are demanded for “virus removal”
Data has been lost permanently
Bank accounts have been compromised
Spyware has been downloaded onto their machine

As an IT provider, it is our duty to remind you regularly of such malicious schemes so that you are protected from these phishing strategies. If your machine is locked by a scary pop-up message, please take the following steps:

Don’t panic!
Do not call the number provided!
Restart your computer and proceed as normal (this often resolves the issue)
If you continue to receive such pop-up messages, let us know right away so we can scan your system for adware, spyware, viruses or other malware that may be causing the issue.

Here is a link to a YouTube video from the Better Business Bureau that also provides information: YouTube Video

And here is a link from Microsoft directly about these types of scams: Microsoft Article

As always if you feel like your computer or network may have been compromised let us know and we can help you get everything secure and setup a plan to keep your computers protected in the future.