Ken Paxton
Consumer Protection

Be Alert When Dealing with Pop-up Ads Online

Consumers should proceed with caution when following up on unsolicited online advertisements, especially pop-up advertisements. My office has received reports of people being scammed by sweepstakes offers.

The reason the scam works is because of an appealing risk/reward factor. The pop-up ad will offer you a chance to enter a sweepstakes with a lucrative pay out, for a very small amount of money, in some cases just a single dollar. You will then be asked for your bank account information.

When victims review their accounts, they find that there have been periodic debits of $15-20 or more. In some cases, consumers reported being charged for two or three years.

When surfing online, always proceed cautiously:

  • Never pay a fee to enter a sweepstakes or contest of any kind.

  • Never submit your bank account information online, especially in response to a pop-up ad or unsolicited email.

  • If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


ABOUT CONSUMER ALERTS - The Office of the Attorney General accepts consumer complaints about businesses. When a pattern of complaints warrants intervention, the Attorney General can file a civil lawsuit under consumer protection statutes, sometimes with the result that a company is required to pay restitution to consumers -- see our Major Lawsuits page. However, when a consumer is swindled by a con artist, filing a complaint cannot help. Civil litigation can sometimes put a very unscrupulous business out of action, but often cannot produce restitution.

Individual con artists generally fall under the jurisdiction of a criminal prosecutor -- in Texas, this is the district or county attorney. But even when they are charged and convicted, these individuals usually have spent the money as fast as they have stolen it. A person who is the victim of fraud should report the incident to the police or sheriff. But by far the best thing is for consumers to be aware of fraud, so they are not swindled in the first place. For this reason, the Office of the Attorney General posts these Consumer Alerts about possible scams and schemes that come to our attention through citizen contacts to our office or other sources.