Avoid the "Warning: Your macOS has expired" tech support scam
Written by Tomas Meskauskas on (updated)
What is the "Warning: Your macOS has expired" scam?
"Warning: Your macOS has expired" is a technical support scam run on deceptive websites. This scheme claims that the user's macOS (Mac Operating System) has expired, and due to this, certain applications will no longer be operational and the device itself is at risk of infection.
Additionally, suspicious activity has supposedly already been detected. Scams of this type promote fake tech support helplines, and from that point on the scammers can abuse users' trust in various ways. All of the information provided by "Warning: Your macOS has expired" is false.
Typically, users access these deceptive/scam sites unintentionally - they are redirected to them by intrusive advertisements or Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs). These rogue apps do not need explicit user consent to be installed onto devices.
When a web page promoting "Warning: Your macOS has expired" is accessed, visitors are presented with several pop-up windows. The pop-up at the center of the page and one in the bottom right corner contain practically identical messages. They state that users' Mac OSs have expired and this has made the devices susceptible to cyber attacks.
Therefore, an unspecified app will not work with future updates to the operating system, due to incompatibility. To prevent this, it must be updated. For instructions about how to do so, users are urged to call the provided telephone number.
The text presented in the background discusses new upgrades for the macOS, featuring new applications and updates for pre-existing ones. Once again, it is stated that to learn how to upgrade, users are to call the fake technical support line. The pop-up at the top of the page informs that users' Mac devices have been blocked, as suspicious activity has been detected on them.
To resolve these nonexistent issues, they are instructed to contact the fake support. Despite being presented as "free", the fraudulent helplines are often expensive. Scammers usually request remote access and control over users' devices, under the pretence of providing technical support.
Allowing such access can lead to various problems. In best case scenarios, the devices remain unharmed, however, after gaining entry, scammers can exfiltrate sensitive data from the system, infect the device with malware (e.g. ransomware, Trojans, etc.) or cause other serious issues.
Scammers commonly ask users to provide personal information such as names, addresses, emails, banking account and/or credit card details. The collected data is then used to further other schemes or sold to third parties. Financial information can be misused to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases.
Furthermore, the fake services that scammers offer are seldom free - users might be asked to pay various fees. In summary, trusting the "Warning: Your macOS has expired" scam can lead to system infections, financial loss, serious privacy issues and even identity theft.
As mentioned, deceptive sites can be force-opened by PUAs, however, causing undesirable redirects is not the only dangerous capability these applications can have. Adware-types deliver pop-ups, banners, coupons and other intrusive advertisements.
These diminish the browsing experience and, when clicked, redirect to untrustworthy/malicious web pages and can stealthily download/install rogue software (e.g. PUAs). Browser hijackers are another type of unwanted apps, which modify browsers in order to promote fake search engines.
The promoted web searchers are rarely capable of generating search results, and so they redirect to Google, Yahoo, Bing and other legitimate search engines. Furthermore, most PUAs (regardless of type) can track browsing activity. Information of interest includes visited URLs, viewed pages, searched queries, IP addresses, geolocations and other details.
This data is likely to contain personally identifiable information, which the developers monetize by sharing with and/or selling to third parties. To ensure device integrity and user privacy/safety, remove all suspect applications and browser extensions/plug-ins without delay.
|Name||"Warning: Your macOS has expired" pop-up|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Mac malware, Mac virus.|
|Fake Claim||User's macOS has expired and suspicious activity has been detected on their device.|
|Tech Support Scammer Phone Number||+1-800-598-1890|
|Detection Names (server14error[.]tk)
||Forcepoint ThreatSeeker (Suspicious), Full List (VirusTotal).|
|Serving IP Address (server14error[.]tk)
|Symptoms||Your Mac becomes slower than normal, you see unwanted pop-up ads, you are redirected to dubious websites.|
|Distribution methods||Deceptive pop-up ads, free software installers (bundling), fake Flash Player installers, torrent file downloads.|
|Damage||Internet browser tracking (potential privacy issues), display of unwanted ads, redirects to dubious websites, loss of private information.|
|Malware Removal (Mac)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your Mac with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
"ZEUS VIRUS DETECTED !!!", "Your Mac is infected with 4 viruses", "Your Apple iPhone is severely damaged by 19 viruses!", and "Your OSX 10.11 El Capitan Is Infected With 3 Viruses!" are some examples of other schemes targeting Apple users. The web is full of various scams, which make likewise varied claims.
Popular models are warnings that the device is infected or at risk, alerts that an essential piece of software is outdated, prize giveaways, "unbelievable" offers/deals, etc.
The purpose of the schemes is to encourage users into calling fake support/service helplines, revealing personal information, giving access to their devices, paying bogus fees, downloading/installing and/or purchasing nonoperational and dubious products (e.g. fake anti-virus software), and so on.
Regardless of what these scams claim, offer or request, the purpose is identical: to generate profit for the scammers/cyber criminals behind them.
How did potentially unwanted applications install on my computer?
Some PUAs have "official" download web pages, which are often promoted by deceptive/scam sites. These apps are often downloaded/installed together with software as well. This deceptive marketing tactic of packing normal products with unwanted or malicious additions is termed "bundling".
Rushing download/installation processes (e.g. ignoring terms, skipping steps, etc.) increases the risk of inadvertently allowing dubious and/or bundled content into the system. Intrusive ads proliferate PUAs as well. When the ads are clicked, they can execute scripts to make stealthy downloads/installations.
How to avoid installation of potentially unwanted applications
You are strongly advised to research all products prior to download/installation and/or purchase. Use only official and verified download channels, since untrusted sources such as unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks and other third party downloaders commonly offer deceptive and/or bundled content.
When downloading/installing, you are strongly advised to read the terms, explore all available options, use the "Custom" or "Advanced" settings and opt-out of additional apps, tools, features, etc. It is also important to exercise caution when browsing.
Intrusive advertisements may seem legitimate, however, they can redirect to dubious sites (e.g. gambling, pornography, adult-dating, and so on). If you encounter ads or redirects of this kind, check your devices and immediately remove all suspicious applications and browser extensions/plug-ins.
If your computer is already infected with PUAs, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS to automatically eliminate them.
Text presented in the "Warning: Your macOS has expired" scam:
macOS Overview All new Features How to Upgrade Upgrade now
Apple Support: +1-800-598-1890 (Toll Free)
The power of Mac.
Featuring all-new, dedicated apps for music, TV and podcasts. Smart new features in the apps you use every day. And Sidecar, which lets you use iPad as a second Mac display.
Learn how to upgrade > Upgrade now >
Warning: Your macOS has expired.
Your device is vulnerable to cyber attacks.
This app will not work with future versions of macOS and needs to be updated to improve compatibility.
Please renew or call for a free checkup.
Warning: Your macOS has expired.
Your device is vulnerable to cyber attacks. This app will not work with future versions of macOS and needs to be updated to improve compatibility.
Please renew or call for a free checkup.
Customer Service: +1-800-598-1890 (TOLL-FREE)
Your MAC has been blocked due to suspicious activity! Please call Support Now!. Call Toll-Free: +1-800-598-1890 To find right solution.
Are you sure you want to leave this page?
Appearance of "Warning: Your macOS has expired" scam (GIF):
Instant automatic Mac malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of Mac malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is "Warning: Your macOS has expired" pop-up?
- How to identify a pop-up scam?
- How do pop-up scams work?
- How to remove fake pop-ups?
- How to prevent fake pop-ups?
- What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?
How to identify a pop-up scam?
Pop-up windows with various fake messages are a common type of lures cybercriminals use. They collect sensitive personal data, trick Internet users into calling fake tech support numbers, subscribe to useless online services, invest in shady cryptocurrency schemes, etc.
While in the majority of cases these pop-ups don't infect users' devices with malware, they can cause direct monetary loss or could result in identity theft.
Cybercriminals strive to create their rogue pop-up windows to look trustworthy, however, scams typically have the following characteristics:
- Spelling mistakes and non-professional images - Closely inspect the information displayed in a pop-up. Spelling mistakes and unprofessional images could be a sign of a scam.
- Sense of urgency - Countdown timer with a couple of minutes on it, asking you to enter your personal information or subscribe to some online service.
- Statements that you won something - If you haven't participated in a lottery, online competition, etc., and you see a pop-up window stating that you won.
- Computer or mobile device scan - A pop-up window that scans your device and informs of detected issues - is undoubtedly a scam; webpages cannot perform such actions.
- Exclusivity - Pop-up windows stating that only you are given secret access to a financial scheme that can quickly make you rich.
Example of a pop-up scam:
How do pop-up scams work?
Cybercriminals and deceptive marketers usually use various advertising networks, search engine poisoning techniques, and shady websites to generate traffic to their pop-ups. Users land on their online lures after clicking on fake download buttons, using a torrent website, or simply clicking on an Internet search engine result.
Based on users' location and device information, they are presented with a scam pop-up. Lures presented in such pop-ups range from get-rich-quick schemes to fake virus scans.
How to remove fake pop-ups?
In most cases, pop-up scams do not infect users' devices with malware. If you encountered a scam pop-up, simply closing it should be enough. In some cases scam, pop-ups may be hard to close; in such cases - close your Internet browser and restart it.
In extremely rare cases, you might need to reset your Internet browser. For this, use our instructions explaining how to reset Internet browser settings.
How to prevent fake pop-ups?
To prevent seeing pop-up scams, you should visit only reputable websites. Torrent, Crack, free online movie streaming, YouTube video download, and other websites of similar reputation commonly redirect Internet users to pop-up scams.
To minimize the risk of encountering pop-up scams, you should keep your Internet browsers up-to-date and use reputable anti-malware application. For this purpose, we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS.
What to do if you fell for a pop-up scam?
This depends on the type of scam that you fell for. Most commonly, pop-up scams try to trick users into sending money, giving away personal information, or giving access to one's device.
- If you sent money to scammers: You should contact your financial institution and explain that you were scammed. If informed promptly, there's a chance to get your money back.
- If you gave away your personal information: You should change your passwords and enable two-factor authentication in all online services that you use. Visit Federal Trade Commission to report identity theft and get personalized recovery steps.
- If you let scammers connect to your device: You should scan your computer with reputable anti-malware (we recommend Combo Cleaner Antivirus for macOS) - cyber criminals could have planted trojans, keyloggers, and other malware, don't use your computer until removing possible threats.
- Help other Internet users: report Internet scams to Federal Trade Commission.
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