Google Chrome And The Notification Scam

February 26, 2020

Google is always trying to be helpful. They add features to their different products to potentially help us enjoy the experience more.

It can, however, backfire.

And that is the case with Chrome notifications. If you are a user of the Google Chrome web browser, then you have likely experienced what I am about to explain.

(Not sure whether you use Chrome or not? Take a look at the picture above. It is the icon you will click if you use it to view websites)

Notifications initially start by asking you if you would like them. They appear near the address bar. Here is an example of FaceBook doing precisely that:

If you choose Allow, you will then start to receive notifications in the bottom right of your screen. They will look something like this example:

So What’s The Issue?

OK, so you may like the idea of Facebook popping up notifications as you browse the web. In that case, great. Many of us, however, find them annoying.

If you would prefer not to have this kind of information overload, I will explain how to remove these pop-ups. Before I do, however, let’s look at the more sinister side of these notifications.

Scam Notice

According to a report by the anti-virus company Kaspersky, there was a 69% increase in advert and scam notifications in 2019.

Allowing these types of notifications could end up with you getting unwanted ads, scam sites and even malware.

At the time of writing, one of the most common scams I have seen is an advert for Norton Security. It tells you that your subscription has expired and you need to renew.

If you click on the notification and follow it through, you end up buying a genuine Norton subscription. This isn’t bad in itself, but it’s likely you didn’t own Norton in the first place, and you possibly now have two anti-virus programs running and slowing your computer down.

You have also just given the crooks a cut of the subscription money. And, remember this isn’t really Norton’s fault. It is foot-in-the-door selling by a third party through these notifications.

What To Do

The first thing to do is to keep an eye out for these boxes asking you to show notifications. If you get one, click on Block. I would recommend this for anything that comes up. There isn’t one notification that I believe useful, so please block them all.

If you are already receiving notifications you don’t want, then you can prevent them within the settings of Chrome. Unfortunately, Google has hidden those settings deep within its browser.

So here’s how to get to them and what I suggest you do:

  • Open your Chrome Browser.
  • In the top right, click on the three vertical dots
  • From the menu that appears, click on Settings

  • This brings up the settings page within Chrome. Scroll down until you see Advanced and click it.

  • Scroll down until you see Privacy and security and click on Site Settings.

  • Again, scroll, if needed, and click on Notifications

  • In the Notifications setting box, I would first suggest stopping the option that asks if notifications are wanted. At the top of the page, click the blue slider to the right of the words “Sites can ask to send notifications”. The slider will now turn grey.

  • Secondly, look at the sites you have allowed. This is under the Allow heading.

  • Some sites, the Google ones, you can’t change.  The others can be blocked by clicking on the three vertical dots and selecting Block. The site will now be listed under the Block heading. While it is possible to use Remove, I would suggest Block to ensure notifications can’t happen.

Wrapping up

Chrome’s notifications may have been a good idea in the brains of the engineers at Google. To most of us, however, they are plain frustrating and have also allowed scammers another way to get you to part with your money or your details.

As I also see no real benefit in even the legitimate notices, I would suggest blocking them all as described above.

If you need help with this or get notifications from other web browsers, etc., please get in touch.