The Most Common iPad Scams and How to Avoid Them

Don't be fooled by fake anti-virus software, giveaways, and more

A person with a credit card and an iPad

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Anytime a new popular gadget comes out, an assortment of scams usually follows. The iPad is no exception. You can avoid most of these ruses once you learn how to recognize them.

Free iPad Giveaway

The fake giveaway is the most common iPad scam. Part of the process of claiming a free device might involve filling out forms, inviting other people to take advantage of the offer, and possibly downloading software to your computer or phone. The least harmful consequence is that the scammers sell your information and you get a bunch of spam emails. But, it may be a means to gain access to your computer and cause more damage.

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Apple doesn't like giveaways using their products and has strict guidelines about them, including a restriction that "free" not be used prominently in any contest display. So, anytime you see "free iPad" posted in bold letters, it's a scam.

The best way to avoid falling for this scam is to never participate in one of these giveaways. But, if you believe a deal is legitimate because it comes from a well-known company, and you want to participate in the giveaway, go to the company's website directly by typing it into a web browser. Don't click a link from an email, Facebook update, or Twitter post, no matter how official it looks.

The iOS Crash Report and Call Tech Support Scam

This scam involves an online pop-up message claiming there's a virus on your iPad or that your iPad's configuration is causing a bug. It asks you to call a phone number for tech support. Once they have you on the phone, scammers either ask for credit card information or lead you to fake websites to trick you into giving up personal information.

Photo of a technical support agent
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One popular variant of this scam is the iOS Crash Report. In this version, a pop-up message informs you that your iPad crashed, and you must call Apple Technical Support to get it fixed. The number doesn't connect to Apple.

This scam takes many forms and doesn't always use a pop-up. Sometimes, the website spams a message when you attempt to leave, forcing you to quit Safari manually.

Anytime someone claims to be from Apple and tells you to contact tech support, especially if you receive these instructions from an email or website, dismiss it. If you do believe there's a problem with your device, however, contact tech support using the phone numbers from the official Apple website.

Never follow a link to the Apple website. Instead, enter apple.com into the address bar and go there directly. Or, call Apple tech support at 1-800-694-7466.

If you receive a request to call a tech support line from a third-party website, or tech support calls you out of the blue, ignore it.

Test Our Product and Get a Free iPad

A version of the iPad Giveaway scam, this scheme occurs when criminals offer a free iPad in return for product testing. The testing could be for an app or an expensive accessory, but it's another giveaway scam with a different delivery system.

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This type of con first appeared around the same time the iPad made its debut, with the scammers urging users to beta test the new Facebook app and keep the free iPad.

Fake Anti-Virus Software for the iPad

While Apple has cracked down on bogus anti-virus software in the App Store, some still advertise there. Don't fall for their promises of protection, though. The iPad is incapable of getting an actual virus. The way a computer virus spreads is by jumping from one piece of software to another on a PC and altering the software. But, the iPad architecture doesn't allow one app to modify another.

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The iPad isn't impervious to malware, although it's difficult for harmful software to slip through the App Store screening process. When it does, Apple removes it reasonably quickly. But, other types of malware can come to an iPad in the form of malicious websites or links in an email that leads to one of these websites.

Penny Auction Sites

Have you seen those advertisements promising an iPad for $24.13? If you thought it was too good to be true, you're correct. Penny auction sites are a relatively new scam that works similar to a pyramid scheme without the pyramid.

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Each time you bid on one of these platforms, it costs you money. So, while that iPad may eventually sell for a low amount, the amount of money the auction site collects on bid fees could be thousands of dollars.

Anytime there's a vast difference in the amount of money going to the site compared to the retail price of what they're selling, you're most likely going to spend more money than the product is worth.