"Activation Warning" Pop-up - How to remove

“Activation Warning” or “Activation Security Warning” is an example of a fake Microsoft security warning. It was discovered by jerrycan1991 and is an example of a tech support scam and a phishing site, meaning that it attempts to sell victims fake tech support, as well as steal their online credentials. “Activation Warning” has nothing to do with the real Microsoft and should be ignored and reported.

How the “Activation Warning” scam works

Causes of the warning

To see “Activation Warning”, you need to follow some malicious links or get an adware infection. So, it’s possible that your computer is infected with some adware and that’s why you saw the scam site, but just as well you could be stumbled on the site while your PC is squeaky clean.

On an infected computer, the browser is likely to constantly open new tabs with random websites. You might also see floating ads and pop-ups in your browser. Either an adware virus, a browser hijacker, or hijacked browser settings could be responsible for leading you to the “Activation Warning” scam.

Even with a clean computer, visiting sites that have all sorts of pop-ups, redirects, and other aggressive ads will expose you to dangerous content like “Activation Warning”. You can mitigate this by using an antivirus program to block malicious sites, but since new ones crop up very often, you need to remain vigilant.

“Activation Warning” is a dangerous tech support scam:

Dangers of falling for the scam
  • Online credentials are exposed to scammers
  • Access to your computer is given to scammers
  • Money paid for fake support and security
  • Malware installed
Causes of seeing “Activation Warning”
How to deal with “Activation Warning”
  • Close the browser tab
  • Scan your computer for malware (SpyHunter)
  • Uninstall software that the scammers wanted installed
  • Change passwords
How to avoid malicious sites
  • Use web protection
  • Avoid sites with pop-up ads
  • Recognize scam sites and ignore them

What “Activation Warning” looks like

The “Activation Warning” scam can show up on various URLs and change small details, like the phone number of the scammers. This “Activation Warning” version showed this pop-up:

Suspicious activity detected due to harmful virus installed in your computer. Call Microsoft Toll Free now @ 1-833-292-1252 for any assistance. Your data is at serious risk. There is a system file missing due to a harmful virus error, causing a system failure.

And this text in the scam page:

Activation Warning
ERROR # 0xC004FC03
Please call us immediately at:
Do not ignore this critical alert.
If you close this page, your computer access will be disabled to prevent further damage to our network.
Your computer has alerted us that it has been infected with a Pornographic Spyware and virus. The following information is being stolen:
1. Facebook Logins
2.Credit Card Details
3.Email Account Logins
4.Photos and documents stored on this computer

“Activation Warning” is extremely similar to the “Windows Warning Alert” scam, even if they look somewhat different at first glance. They might have the same creators, which is pretty depressing – it means that scamming people this way is lucrative enough to continue this “business” for months or even years. This article by Microsoft talks about how diverse a problem this is and how it’s a real criminal enterprise.

"Activation Warning Alert", the scam site's screenshot

How to deal with “Activation Warning”

“Activation Warning” is spread by malicious redirects and might be difficult to avoid. Luckily, if you can just tell when a virus warning is fake, you can safely dismiss these scams and not worry about them – “Activation Warning” certainly doesn’t lack red flags. Also, the more familiar you are with various scams, the better you will be able to notice them.

How to recognize the deception

“Activation Warning” is really trying to scare you:

  • A 5-minute timer.
  • System error sounds, a text-to-speech robot reading the warning text.
  • Complete data loss if you ignore the warning.
  • Personal information and online credentials being stolen at this very moment.

This is not the behavior of a real virus warning. If the real Windows detected a virus, it would tell you that it detected a program that might compromise your privacy or damage your computer, that’s all. It would give you full control of your actions, would not threaten you, and it would certainly not ask you to call a phone number.

The “Activation Warning” scam, on the other hand, tries to scare you. It gives you a timer counting down till permanent damage because that’s supposed to make you hurry – even if you have some doubts about how authentic “Activation Warning” is, the risk of losing all of your data seems pretty serious.

Also, a lot of people are somewhat awkward about consuming adult content, so of course “Activation Warning” throws in “Pornographic Spyware” in there, even though that’s not even a thing.

“Activation Warning” is the only real malware here, trying to get you to type in your username and password in the pop-up. It can use that later to hack your account. The real Windows sometimes asks for your administrator password, but those alerts look completely different from “Activation Warning”.

What to do about “Activation Warning”

"Activation Warning Alert", an illustration

Close the pop-up

First of all, “Activation Warning” is a webpage. A real system warning would not show up in your browser, but since malicious sites don’t have that kind of access to your computer, this is the best they can do. Be aware that “Activation Warning” will try to enter full-screen to take control away from you. It will also display a pop-up that prevents the browser from being closed.

You can close the “Activation Warning” window with the Alt+F4 shortcut. If that doesn’t work, you can quit the browser process by bringing up Task Manager with the Ctrl+Shift+Esc shortcut (just press all three buttons down at once), finding your browser process (you can sort the processes by name), and forcing it to close.

Deal with the damage

You might have done some things that “Activation Warning” asked of you: called the scammers, installed some remote access software, even given the scammers your payment information. Some of that is pretty important, so it’s important to start fixing the situation right away.

Microsoft has an article on how to deal with tech support scams, and there are a few parts to this.

Change the passwords that you think were exposed to the scammers. If 2-factor authentication isn’t activated yet, make sure to turn it on. And only do all this on a computer that’s not infected with anything.

To get rid of any malware from your computer, scan it with an anti-malware scanner, for example, SpyHunter. Uninstall what software the people behind “Activation Warning” had you install and other suspicious files and programs. To avoid scams like “Activation Warning” in the future, get an anti-malware program and keep it updated – an outdated antivirus is no good.

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How to remove "Activation Warning" Pop-up using Windows Control Panel

Many hijackers and adware like "Activation Warning" Pop-up install some of their components as regular Windows programs as well as additional software. This part of malware can be uninstalled from the Control Panel. To access it, do the following.
  • Start→Control Panel (older Windows) or press Windows Key→Search and enter Control Panel and then press Enter (Windows 8, Windows 10). Open Control Panel by searching for it in the Start menu.
  • Choose Uninstall Program (if you don't see it, click in the upper right next to "View by" and select Category). In Control Panel, select Uninstall a program.
  • Go through the list of programs and select entries related to "Activation Warning" Pop-up . You can click on "Name" or "Installed On" to reorder your programs and make "Activation Warning" Pop-up easier to find. Find the program that you need to uninstall.
  • Click the Uninstall button. If you're asked if you really want to remove the program, click Yes. Click the Uninstall button after selecting the program to uninstall. Then click Yes.
  • In many cases anti-malware programs are better at detecting related parasites, thus I recommend installing Spyhunter to identify other programs that might be a part of this infection. Spyhunter marking a program and its components as low-threat malware.
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