A warning about pop-up ads, some may be dangerous

Posted at 10:43 AM, Apr 09, 2018

Ever been surfing online using your mobile phone and then--- “whammo” --- you’re interrupted by a pop-up ad?  Experts tell us clicking on some might actually be risky.

You’re just surfing along on your phone and,  well, they just “pop-up”!  Ad industry insiders say they aren’t going away.

“Mobile ads are booming in today's market mobile usage is going up people are using mobile phones more often,” Bryan Shetsky, CEO of Lamark Media Group says. 

In some cases, the pop-up is legit. You click on it and learn about a new product. “Mobile ads done properly are a good value to consumers. If that ad is relevant to them, that ad has value to them and it matches their lifestyle,” Shetsky says. 

In other cases, you may so-called “fat finger” the pop-up. “People often click on mobile ads by mistake,” says Shetsky. “You're in the middle of an experience, you're playing a game, and you go to click something and all of a sudden you hit the ad.”

And sometimes, if you click on the wrong pop-up, it could be downright risky.

“As we do more and more of our life on our phones the scammers are migrating with us,” says Attorney Steven J. J. Weisman who is a scam and security expert. 

Apple’s website cautions about a phone and computer “pop-up ad” scheme, saying: 

“You might see a pop-up ad or a page warning you about a problem with your device…” 

“These alerts are pop-ups, designed to trick you into calling a phony support number, or buying an app that claims to fix the issue…” 

Security experts are also concerned about some pop-ups that you can’t seem to close and some that redirect you to other websites.

“By merely clicking on the link and going to that website, just by going there, you can end up downloading malware. Or by clicking on any link that is in the pop-up ad, that can download malware,” Weisman says. 

Mobile browsers and ad blocking programs, experts say, try to block as many suspicious sites as they can. 

But, Weisman says, the criminals work quickly, “It's like going to a county fair and playing ‘Whack a Mole.’ as soon as you bang one another one comes up.”

Weisman urges caution clicking on any pop-up ad and stresses you should keep your security software up-to-date.

But Shetsky says not all ads are bad—you just have to be careful, “Mobile advertising can be extremely safe, or it could be dangerous depending on where you're surfing and what you're touching and where you end up.”

Some browsers have settings that allow you to block pop-ups. 

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