Staying safe from web browser scams

A built-in security app for Windows, Millions of users continue to encounter technical support scams daily. And every day, Microsoft's SmartScreen technology blocks over 155,000 tech support scam attempts in Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. In this safety video, we'll help you recognize common tech support web browser scams that fraudsters employ, good practices for dealing with these red flags, and steps you can take to avoid future scams. Let's look at some example of web browser scams. Web browser scams try to convince you that your device has a problem. Browser pop-ups may look legitimate. They try to scare you into calling their fake tech support numbers or opening a link to their website. A looping dialogue box is a pop-up that just won't go away.


The only way to exit is to close your browser from Task Manager. You can open Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete all at the same time. Or you can ask Cortana for help in opening Task Manager, then end the web browser task. Scammers might trick you into going to a site that looks like a Microsoft tech support site. But look closely, this website actually opened a browser in full-screen mode to cover your real browser. And there's a fake address bar on the top. If you close full-screen mode, it's much more noticeable. Woah, what happened here? This is a scary one because it mimics a Windows system error. And there's a phone number, but that's not a Microsoft number. Actually, it's just another trick, it's a full-screen web browser pop-up. If you install software from one of these sites, you might infect yourself with ransomware. Ransomware is a program that scrambles your data files and asks you to pay to unlock them. Usually, ransomware displays a scary ransom note on the top of your desktop. Even if you pay, you might not get your files back. The best defense is a good back-up system, better yet, two back ups. Sometimes, search-based ads show sites that aren't trustworthy. These ads usually appear at the top of search page results. You might think this is Microsoft technical support, but it's not.


Let me show you some safety tips to avoid web browser scams. Keep your devices and antivirus software up to date. Windows 10 makes it easy with automatic updates. Backup your data to the cloud or an external hard drive, better yet, both. Use your browser safety settings. Microsoft Edge and most browsers include a pop-up blocker. And if you're using Microsoft Edge, turn on SmartScreen from the Windows Defender Security Center to tell you if a site you're trying to visit isn't safe. Don't call a support number in a pop-up. Remember, Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support or to ask for your personal or financial information to fix your computer. Any communication we have with you must be initiated by you. The best way for you to get support is to visit Microsoft technical support at


Or use the Windows 10 Get Help app to troubleshoot problems. What action should you take if you lose control of your PC to scammers? Shut down your PC by holding down the power button until the PC turns off, then power back on. Or press Control+Alt+Delete and select Task Manager. Then select your web browser program and End Task. When you see a pop-up window on your PC, and you're uncertain whether it's from someone at Microsoft, don't take the risk. If you are a victim of a scam, please report it to us at If you think you might have downloaded malware from a tech support scam website or allowed a cybercriminal to access your computer, take these steps. First, apply any security updates as soon as they're available. Change your passwords on your computer, your email accounts, and any financial accounts. Make your passwords complicated, update them often, and don't share them with anyone. Do a full scan to remove any malware installed on your computer.


Windows 8 and above have Windows Defender built in. If you're using an older version of Windows (Windows 7, Vista, or XP), install Microsoft Security Essentials. Microsoft Security Essentials is free, never pay someone to help you install it. Scammers are upping their game every day. The best defense is to know what to look for. Back up you files and keep your system up to date. Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever. Comprehensive security is built in free of charge.

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