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Remove Fake pop-up or tech support scam messages that warn the computer is infected

Fake virus alerts are a deceptive cybersecurity threats designed by today’s hackers to try to deliver different types of malware onto a potentially vulnerable device. And though we’d like to think it’s as easy as simply closing the window, sometimes it takes more than that to get rid of pop-up viruses.

How do fake virus alerts work?

Fake virus alerts have two motives: to get you to click on an infected link triggering a drive-by download or continue to a fake website and purchase antivirus software that doesn’t exist. And similar to cyberattacks like phishing and smishing, these phony virus alerts often come with urgent messages meant to scare victims into making irrational decisions. 

When it comes to fake virus scams, always avoid clicking on any part of the message. Simply close the screen. And if they keep appearing, you can use the removal tips below to get your device back to normal.

How to spot a fake virus alert?

How to spot a fake virus alert

A common question internet users ask is, “What do fake virus alerts look like?” Here are some common warning signs that a fake virus alert found its way onto your device:

  • Payment requests: Legitimate antivirus services would never ask for a payment before testing out services.
  • Phone call requests: Hackers may add a phone number for you to call and convince you to share banking information to purchase antivirus software. 
  • Urgent tone: Hackers often create a sense of urgency to convince users their fake virus alert is real. 
  • Poor grammar: Some hackers fail to be detail-oriented when creating fake virus alerts.
  • Basic designs: Some hackers don’t have the professional design skills needed to make their fake virus alerts look legitimate.

Some people find themselves dealing with pop-ups like this constantly. In that case, you may have to take steps to remove the malware creating these fake virus alerts altogether.

How to get rid of fake virus pop-ups?

How to get rid of fake virus pop-up

Use the steps below to help clear your device of fake virus alerts endangering your personal cybersecurity.


Exit your browser

The first step to take if you encounter a fake virus alert is to close your browser. Try to close your browser normally by clicking the X in the top-right corner. You can use the alternative methods below:

  1. Use the Windows keyboard shortcuts Ctrl + Shift + Q, or Alt + F4 + Q.
  2. If that doesn’t work, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to open your Task Manager. Find your web browser among the running processes, and click End Task to force it to close.


  1. Use the Command + Q shortcut to close the browser.
  2. If that does not work, click on the Apple menu  in the corner of your screen and select Force Quit.
  3. Select your web browser and click on the Force Quit button.

Remove any suspicious apps or extensions

If you accidentally visited an unsecure site, it could have left you vulnerable to a drive-by download capable of installing malicious software and programs that could be creating the fake virus alerts. If so, you’ll need to find and remove any suspicious apps and/or extensions you don’t recognize. 
Putting them in the trash and emptying your folder should be sufficient. But if they’re stubborn and won’t delete, you can skip step three and simply perform a factory reset. This removes any nonessential apps and software from your computer.

Scan for malware

If you search through your computer and can’t find any suspicious files, you should consider downloading antivirus software — that is if you don’t have it already. You can use the software to scan your computer for malware that may be hiding itself. And if the scan does discover a threat, it can work to remove it and protect your device from any further damage.

Download Norton Power Eraser and run a scan

Norton Power Eraser is compatible with Windows 7 SP1 and newer operating systems.

  1. Depending on your version of Windows, download one of the following: 
    • On 64-bit Windows: Norton Power Eraser.
    • On 32-bit Windows: Norton Power Eraser.

  2. Press Ctrl + J key, to open the Downloads window in your browser, and double-click the NPE.exe file.

    If the User Account Control window prompts, click Yes or Continue.

  3. Read the license agreement and click Agree.

    If you have already accepted the license agreement, you will not be prompted again.

    Norton Power Eraser checks for and automatically downloads the new version if available.

  4. In the Norton Power Eraser window, select Full System Scan, and click Run Now.

  5. If you want to include the Rootkit scan, click Settings, and under Scan and Log Settings, toggle the option Include Rootkit scan (requires a computer restart) and click Apply.

  6. When you see a prompt to restart the computer, click Restart.

    Wait for the scan to complete. Follow the on-screen instructions.


Perform a factory reset

A factory reset is a more permanent solution to clearing devices of fake virus pop-up messages — kind of like a digital deep cleaning. It essentially restores your hard drive to its original settings and deletes all other files and programs saved to the device.

This is great for clearing out pop-up viruses and different types of malware. However, it’s important you remember to back up any personal information before it’s cleared from your device.

How to prevent fake virus alerts?

Fake virus pop-up protection tips

Online hackers usually set traps on the web that trigger fake virus warnings to appear on your screen. Here are some tips to help keep you two steps ahead of their hacking methods:

  • Avoid unsecure sites: Visiting unsecured websites could expose your device to hidden malware and other cyberthreats.
  • Don’t click on suspicious links or attachments: Fake virus warnings often include dangerous links and attachments used to infect devices.
  • Use an ad blocker: Ad blockers can help keep fake warning messages from appearing.
  • Enable automatic updates: Automatic security updates can help keep your device prepared to fend off potential cyberattacks.
  • Download antivirus software: Antivirus software can alert you if a fake virus message installed malware onto your computer.

Don’t let a fake virus alert ruin your online shopping or gaming session.
Use our tips on how to remove fake virus pop-ups and protect your devices to keep this cyberthreat out of sight and out of mind.

Frequently asked questions

Still have some lingering questions about fake virus alerts? We have answers.

What should you do if you see a fake virus alert?
If you come across a fake virus alert, you should:
  1. Exit your browser
  2. Remove any suspicious apps/extensions 
  3. Scan for malware 
  4. Perform a factory reset

Is the Google virus warning real?
No, Google does not have an antivirus software notifying users of malware threats. If you come across a pop-up like this, close your browser immediately.

What do fake virus alerts look like?
Fake virus alerts typically include the following:

  • Payment requests
  • Phone call requests
  • Urgent tone
  • Poor grammar
  • Basic design

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DOCID: v122764455
Operating System: Mac;Windows
Last modified: 09/06/2023