While visiting a website on your Android phone, a popup alert suddenly appears that claims that your phone has several viruses that you will need to remove immediately.
The messages, which often include the Google logo, warn that if you do not take action to remove the viruses within just a few minutes, you will lose all of the information stored on your phone and the device will no longer work correctly.
The warnings urge you to click a button to remove the virus. Once the alerts have appeared, you may find that you cannot close them or go to any other web pages in your browser.
If one of these alerts appears, do not tap any buttons or links that it contains. The claim that viruses have been detected on your phone is untrue. Your phone has not been scanned for viruses. And, despite the included logo, these alerts have no connection to Google.
In fact, they are scams designed to trick you into downloading malicious apps or visiting malicious websites.
If you click the “Remove Virus” button, you will often be prompted to install an “anti-virus” app that will supposedly scan and clean your phone. However, the app itself will contain malware and it certainly will not effectively clean or protect your device.
Once installed, the malware may attempt to collect sensitive information such as passwords from your phone or perform other nefarious actions without your knowledge. And, the fake scanner may pretend to find a great many new viruses on your phone and then urge you to pay a fee to have them removed.
In some cases, clicking the button may take you to porn websites or sites that promote other types of fraudulent activity such as survey scams.
Here’s What to Do If You get One of The Fake Virus Alerts
As noted the fake alert may hijack your browser and prevent you from closing it. Also, even if you can close the web page, the fake alert may continue to appear in subsequent browsing sessions.
Do not tap the “Remove Virus” button or any other link in the alert message.
Instead, follow the steps below. Note that the exact procedure may vary somewhat depending on what type of Android phone and what browser you are using.
1: While you may not be able to close the browser tab containing the popup, you should be able to close other open tabs. Make sure that you close all other tabs in your browser before proceeding to the next steps.
2: Go to Settings
3: Open Apps. Depending on your device, this menu item may be labelled Applications, Application Manager or similar.
4: In the app list, find and tap the name of the browser you are using. It may be the name of the actual browser (for example, Chrome ). Or it may simply be labelled “Internet” or “browser”.
5. Tap Force Stop to completely shut down the browser.
6. Tap Storage.
7. Tap Clear Cache.
Once your browser cache is cleared, your browser should work normally again and the fake alert should no longer appear.
Similar Scams Target iPhone Users
While this report discusses fake virus alerts that appear on Android devices, note that similar types of scams also target iPhone and iPad users. The Apple website has more information about these scams here.