If you live in the U.S., you can legally stream videos using the search engine Project Free TV, even though the content you’ll watch is probably unlicensed. You don’t have to worry about being fined, but you should worry about the risks that streaming illegal videos can pose to your computer.

Here’s what it comes down to: Never download anything. Ever.

Project Free TV is technically a streaming site, so this may not seem like an issue. But most free streaming websites are still trying to turn a profit, and they do that by hammering you with advertisements and other pop-ups, many of which may contain malware.

Some of what you’ll see is relatively harmless. Many are straightforward advertisements that take a simple click to close. Sometimes windows will appear from which you can’t click away; use “force quit” to get rid of these.

The real problems arise from pop-ups that try to trick you into downloading content or software. It’s more than likely that the material isn’t actually what it’s described to be. At worst, it could be a very serious virus that could irreparably harm your computer or other devices.

Beware of common deceptions like, “You must install the latest Flash Player update to continue,” or “Your computer has a virus! Click here to download restorative software.” Lies, lies, lies.

Project Free TV Put My Computer at Risk
A screenshot of Project Free TV from April 5, 2017. This is almost definitely a virus, not a Flash Player update. Don't click.

There are ways to minimize the threat of these pop-ups. Keep your browser updated to ensure that it includes the latest security protections. Block pop-ups on your browser and install an ad blocker. Install an anti-malware program that will warn you when it detects a threat.

Above all, just make every effort to close pop-up windows without clicking on their content. Obviously mistakes happen; if you do accidentally start to download something, try to cancel that before it finishes. If you can’t, do not open the file, and instead immediately put it in the trash and empty the trash.

If you avoid these pitfalls, it’s perfectly safe to use Project Free TV. Just stay vigilant, because it can be surprisingly easy to accidentally download materials. You’ve been warned.

Photos via GIF via GIPHY / All Movie Gifs Tumblr

Monica Hunter-Hart is a journalist based in New York City. She's originally from Massachusetts, and has written for Paste Magazine, San Francisco Classical Voice, and more.