COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - When surfing the internet, do you ever get those pop-up ads congratulating you on winning a prize? The only catch is you have to pay a processing fee up front.
It's one of the most common types of fraud called: "The Click Bait Scam."
Paul Ferrentino was surfing the web, when an ad popped up on his computer offering him, 'the best option for a lower interest rate.'
"I clicked on the site and logged in my information, telephone number, and within 2 hours I was getting three or four calls from out of state area codes," he said.
The problem is hackers already got his phone number, so the calls wouldn't stop.
"It just continued non-stop and then the emails started coming in," Ferrentino said.
Det. Jon Price with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office said this is common unless proper malware protection is put in place.
"If you think about how much of your life is on the internet and stored on your computer," said Price. "It's really worth the investment."
The steps are easy. You can buy malware protection in stores or online. You usually download the software to your computer and follow a few simple steps.
However, if you buy online some sites are fake and can lead to other scams.
Det. Price said an up and coming scam were seeing in El Paso County is called the "Ransomware Scam."
"This is where a hacker breaks into your computer, encrypts your files, and then demands a ransom in order to un encrypt the files so you can have access to them."
For example: in some cases an ad will pop up saying "We see a red flag on our end, there is a security breach on it" or "We have detected a malware/spyware virus on your computer. Please call 1-855-..."
The truth is that "security breach" or "malware/spyware" is the real virus and if you click on it will often spread to other parts of your computer.
"The big tech companies don't sit there and monitor your computer," said Price. "They figure you're going to call them if you have a problem."
The bottom line: don't trust pop-up ads that try to extract personal information from you. Even if they seem legitimate, call the company or look up their reputation online to confirm any doubt you may have.
What can you do to protect yourself for any scam?
1. Email Scams: If you receive an email that is threatening or fraudulent report it to your local police or sheriff's department.
2. Pop-up Scams: Report these messages directly to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at email@example.com.
3. Bank Scams: Report immediately to the Internet Crime Complaint Center
4. Arrest Warrant Scams impersonating a law enforcement officer: report it immediately to the El Paso County Sheriff's Department or the city's Fraud Prevention and Detection Policy Division.
5. If you get a "scam" email you can create a spam folder in your email to store all of them. Or you can also go to your settings and automatically block future emails from that account.
What are the top internet scams in Southern Colorado?
Data from the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado