Consumer Advocate

Sign up for newsletters and other news
Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > November 2011 > Beware of Internet pop-ups

Consumer Advocate RSS feeds

Beware of Internet pop-ups

When online, you will likely encounter a pop-up advertisement or two. In addition to being a nuisance, they may bring viruses and send out your personal information.

Pop-ups are generally new web browser windows used to display advertisements. Pop-under ads are similar to pop-up ads, except that the ad window appears hidden behind the main browser window rather than in front of it. 

Certain types of downloaded content, especially images and free music, can cause pop-ups.

Clicking on pop-ups may put you at risk for certain types of scams.
  • One Ohio consumer received phone calls from a scam artist trying to sell computer software. The caller claimed the consumer’s computer had a virus and then asked for email and credit card information.
  • Another consumer reportedly had her computer taken over by numerous pornographic ads and a computer virus after clicking on a pop-up.
The good news is that pop-up ads can be blocked. Follow these precautions to protect your computer and your personal information:
  • Use blocking features. If you have Internet Explorer, “Pop-up Blocker” lets you limit or block most pop-ups. You can choose the level of blocking you prefer. Other Internet browsers have similar features.
  • Download free software to limit pop-ups. Beware that some free software comes with spyware, which can collect and transmit your personal information without your knowledge.
  • Be careful when you close a pop-up. Hitting the "Okay" or “Cancel” button may actually cause more pop-ups. It’s probably safer to close the window by holding the Alt key and pressing F4.
  • Run your computer’s anti-spyware scans often.


Sign up to receive the Consumer Advocate e-newsletter