How to spot scams like Mcafee - Security Warning

Also Known As: Mcafee - Security Warning fake security pop-up
Damage level: Medium

What kind of scam is "Mcafee - Security Warning"?

It is a pop-up scam displayed by an untrustworthy website that we have discovered while examining other shady sites (and ads on them). This scam site displays a pop-up disguised as a security warning from McAfee. It is designed to deceptively promote legitimate antivirus software.

Mcafee - Security Warning scam

"Mcafee - Security Warning" pop-up scam in detail

A pop-up that this shady site implies that a McAfee subscription will expire soon and strongly advises to renew it as soon as possible because of the increased number of threats. It has "Continue" and "Update" buttons. Clicking on any of them opens another deceptive website (disguised as an official McAfee page).

The aforementioned fake McAfee page claims that the antivirus subscription has expired and offers a limited-time 50% renewal discount. It also provides a fake serial number and a number of devices running with an expired McAfee antivirus subscription.

Clicking the "Renew Subscription" hyperlink provided on a fake McAfee site opens a legitimate McAfee site. The actual McAfee company has nothing to do with this scam. This site is operated by affiliates who aim to collect illegitimate commissions (to trick users into purchasing a McAfee subscription through their deceptive site).

Threat Summary:
Name Mcafee - Security Warning fake security pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim McAfee antivirus subscription has expired
Disguise Legitimate/official McAfee website/security warning
Related Domain expiration-notice[.]com
Detection Names Avira (Malware), ESET (Malware), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Fake error messages, fake system warnings, pop-up errors, hoax computer scan.
Distribution methods Compromised websites, rogue online pop-up ads, potentially unwanted applications.
Damage Possible loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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Examples of similar scams

This scam is similar to "Your Antivirus Protection Has Expired", "McAfee Total Protection - Your PC Might Be Infected With Viruses!", "Kaspersky - Your PC Is infected With 5 viruses!", and plenty of others. In most cases, these sites use scare tactics to trick visitors into purchasing antivirus subscriptions. They are disguised as official pages.

How did I open a scam website?

Typically, scams of this type are promoted through pages that use rogue advertising networks (for example, illegal movie streaming, torrent sites). Also, they can appear in search results when search engine poisoning technique is used to promote them. In other cases, such scams get opened through fake "Download" (or similar) buttons, installed adware, or other unwanted apps.

How to avoid visiting scam pages?

Do not download apps or files from shady pages, third-party downloaders, P2P networks, etc. Use official pages and direct links as sources for downloading them. Do not trust ads appearing on questionable pages or allow those pages to show notifications. Deselect unwanted apps before downloading and installing software.

If your computer is already infected with unwanted apps, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate them.

The appearance of "Mcafee - Security Warning" pop-up scam (GIF):

Appearance of Mcafee - Security Warning scam

Text in the deceptive pop-up:

Mcafee - Security Warning

Expiration Notice: Your PC May Be At Risk

Name: Mcafee Total Security
Publisher: Mcafee

Renew Now [Continue][Update]

Warning Due to increased threats of viruses and malware in Unknown, we strongly advise you to update now

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Quick menu:

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:

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 Windows.

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 Windows) - 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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a pop-up scam?

It is a type of scam that often uses scare tactics to trick unsuspecting visitors into performing certain actions.

What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?

It can be used for different purposes. Typically, scammers attempt to trick visitors into purchasing subscriptions through their page, infecting computers with malware, providing sensitive information, installing unwanted software, providing remote access to computers.

Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?

Pop-up scams are delivered by websites that get opened through present malicious apps, pages that use questionable advertising networks, deceptive advertisements, fake "Download" (or similar) buttons. Also, these sites can be promoted by using search engine poisoning techniques, shady website notifications.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?

Combo Cleaner will scan visited websites, detect the malicious ones (including pages designed to display deceptive pop-ups or similar scams) and restrict access to them.

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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