Stop those 'congratulations' pop up ads on phone

Posted at 7:42 PM, Mar 22, 2017

If you have an iPhone, you've probably seen pop-up ads promising you either a chance at money or a store gift card -- or perhaps even a free iPhone. 

It seems to be worse if you use Facebook on an iPhone, as the message often looks like a new Facebook page, with a blue bar.

Who's behind these, and what happens if you click?

Watch for the word 'Congratulations'

It typically happens when you are on Facebook on your phone, and suddenly something pops up telling you "Congratulations, today is your lucky day!"  Uh no, it's not.

It may claim you have just won a chance at a Best Buy or Walmart gift card, an iPhone 7, or something similar. It may even have a countdown clock, saying you have just two minutes to click, or you will lose the deal.

Darci Pearl got hit by one last year.

"They said, 'You won a thousand dollars,'" Pearl said. But she didn't know what she should do next.

What happens if you click

Sometimes a click takes you to posts from people claiming they got their freebie. Other times it takes you to a survey page.

But resist the urge to click. says these are all either marketing tricks or outright scams, and you may be giving the scammers access to your Facebook page.

The most benign versions are "like harvesting" schemes, where they get you to give out personal info by liking a page, then taking a survey, where they can then target you with more junk.

The most dangerous are phishing scams, where clicking through can give the scammers access your Facebook friends list, and they could soon receive bogus messages purporting to be from you.

If that happens to you, you'll say "doesn't that stink?"

What to do, and not do

If you get a pop-up claiming you have won something:

1. Close it.

3. Don't "like" it, don't open it, and don't share.

3. If these are hitting your phone more and more, Apple suggests starting by clearing your phone's history, where these pages sometimes reside, then pop back up.

4. Check Apple support forums. Apple has more detailed advice on how to block these pop-up ads in its support pages.

5.  Add a Safari popup blocker, according to a report in MacWorld.

6.A report in Malware Tipsoffers even more good advice.

7. If it is happening on a laptop or desktop PC, downloadMalwarebytes, which will remove any malware causing it.

Remember: Facebook is not giving away money, and no, you didn't win a free iPhone 7 at random. Sorry, it is not your lucky day.

So resist the urge to click, so you don't waste your money.


“Don't Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”).

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