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Blog Post  Scam Alert: Avoid Screen Overlay Scams

  • Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
Scam Alert: Avoid Screen Overlay Scams

In today’s digital age, consumers consistently encounter scams. Fraudsters progressed from easily identified tricks to high tech deception designed to steal consumers’ hard-earned cash. A recent dangerous con is a screen overlay scam.

Screen overlay scams take over your computer or mobile device in an effort to convince the user to call a number that leads to the swindler waiting to obtain the caller’s personal and financial information.  As these types of scams increase, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation compiled a variety of tips to assist consumers who may be presented with screen overlay malware.

What is a screen overlay scam?

Screen overlay scams are scams where your computer receives popups appearing to come from the operating system of your device.  These popups warn of issues with that can be resolved by calling a certain phone number. After contacting the phone number, the consumer is given prompts from a “customer service representative” to input specific details, including bank account information to bypass the device takeover.

How can I avoid the screen overlay scams?

  • Do not call phone numbers that you are not able to verify.  Especially if the phone numbers come from unauthorized websites or internet popups. If you receive a prompt asking you to call a phone number, verify that phone number first using a different device.
  • Consider contacting tech support for the device you are using if it becomes disabled by screen overlay popups.
  • Legitimate customer support will not request payment via gift card, bitcoin, or wire transfer.  These forms of payment are difficult to trade and often demanded by fraudsters.
  • Attempt to shut down your device immediately should an unidentified website or software appear on the screen.

If you or someone you know is a victim of a screen overlay scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at  If you provided personal information to a scammer visit the Office of Consumer Affairs’ identity theft checklist for assistance dealing with the crime.  For more information or questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs’ Consumer Hotline at 617-973-8787, Monday through Friday from 9am to 4:30pm.

  • Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation 

    The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation protects and empowers consumers through advocacy and education, and ensures a fair playing field for the Massachusetts businesses its agencies regulate.
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