In Brief

Apple iScam: how to avoid £50 'fix' for fake iPhone crash

iPhone and iPad users targeted with so-called 'crash report' that freezes their Safari browser

iPhone 6

Apple iPhone and iPad users are reportedly being targeted by a scam that appears to crash their device and then ask for money to fix it.

The trick is said to have been around in the US for months and has now spread to the UK, with people being charged up to £50 to restore their phones and data privacy.

How does the scam work?

A "crash report" pops up in Safari, the default web browser for iOS devices, with a message such as: "Warning iOS Crash Report – Due to a third party application in your phone, iOS crashed. Contact support for an immediate fix." UK users are told to contact an 0800 number, which puts them through to someone who will "solve" the issue. Apple users have said they were then asked to provide credit card details to pay between £30 and £50 to stop a "third party" allegedly removing details from their handset, reports the Daily Mail. Some users believe the issue might be caused by adverts infected with malicious code. When the Daily Telegraph called the number twice to investigate further, the operator cancelled the call.

How can you fix the problem?

Luckily, there are some easy steps to unfreeze the Safari app. Users are advised to:

  • Put their phone on Airplane mode, which can be found in settings or by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
  • Clear their internet browsing history by going into settings.
  • Reopen Safari and switch off Airplane mode.

An Apple spokesman has pointed users to its support page, which includes details on how iOS users can turn off some features in Safari to help protect their privacy and device from possible security risks. One option to stop the crash from happening again is to "block pop-ups" in the Safari settings.

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