To celebrate April Fool’s Day, read about the email, web, social networking, and phone scams that we hear about most often.
Scams that use the Microsoft name or names of other well-known companies. These scams include fake email messages or websites that use the Microsoft name. The email message might claim that you have won a Microsoft contest, that Microsoft needs your logon information or password, or that a Microsoft representative is contacting you to help you with your computer. (These fake tech-support scams are often delivered by phone.) For more information, see Avoid scams that use the Microsoft name fraudulently.
Rogue security software scams. Rogue security software, also known as “scareware,” is software that appears to be beneficial from a security perspective but provides limited or no security, generates erroneous or misleading alerts, or attempts to lure you into participating in fraudulent transactions. These scams can appear in email, online advertisements, your social networking site, search engine results, or even in pop-up windows on your computer that might appear to be part of your operating system, but are not. For more information, see Watch out for fake virus alerts.
Ransomware scams. If you see a pop-up window, webpage, or email message warning you that your computer has been locked because of possible illegal activities, you might be a victim of a criminal extortion scam called ransomware. Ransomware often masquerades as an official-looking warning from a well-known law enforcement agency, such as the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). For more information, see Help! Someone is holding my computer hostage.
Browser hijacking. Browser hijacking is a type of online fraud. Scammers use malicious software to take control of your computer’s Internet browser and change how and what it displays when you’re surfing the web. Many browser hijackings come from add-on software, also known as browser extensions, browser helper objects, or toolbars. Pay attentions to Internet Explorer warnings when you download software and learn the signs of trusted websites. For more information, see Fix your hijacked web browser.