Scam Alert -- Don't Pay Scammers to Unlock Your iPhone

November 24, 2015

Many people think that viruses only affect computers, but scammers are increasingly targeting smartphones with malware scams. Watch out for a con that uses malware to lock victims' phones and asks them to pay to fix it. Currently, this particular scam seems limited to iPhones and iPad users on Safari, but all smartphones users can be targeted.

How the Scam Works:

You are using the Internet on your smartphone, and suddenly the browser freezes. A pop up appears saying: "Warning IOS - Crash Report. Due to a third party application your phone iOS crashed." The pop-up instructs you to call a "customer support" number immediately to fix this issue. 

If you call, "tech support" staff will offer to fix your phone... for a fee. Victims report that scammers charge about $60. This type of malware is known as ransomware. These viruses freeze the device and prompt the victim to pay to unlock it. 

Protect Your Mobile Phone from Ransomware 

The National Cyber Security Alliance offers these suggestions for keeping your mobile device clean of viruses and malware:

  • Protect all devices connected to the Internet. Computers, smartphones, gaming systems, tablets and other web-enabled devices all need protection from viruses and malware.
  • Keep your mobile devices up-to-date. Download operating system, app and security upgrades as so as they are available (you should receive a notification on your device).
  • Be cautious. Secure your phone and other devices with a password.
  • Protect your privacy. Review privacy policies before you download a new app, and make sure you understand what the app can access on your phone (contacts, photos, social media, location, etc.).
  • Be savvy about Wi-Fi. When you are on-line through an unsecured or unprotected network, be cautious about the sites you visit and the information you release. Limit the business you conduct at hotspots (wait to do your banking from a secure network).
  • When in doubt, don't respond. Scammers may reach out by email, text, voicemail, even social media posts. Be very cautious giving out personal information and never share account numbers.


For More Information

To learn more about protecting your mobile devices, go to StaySafeOnline

To quickly clear pop-up "warnings" from your iPhone, follow these steps from the technology news site ZDNet.

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper ( To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (