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Do not trust sites making false claims about the expiration of your antivirus

Also Known As: Your Antivirus Has Expired pop-up
Damage level: Medium

What is the "Your Antivirus Has Expired" scam?

While inspecting deceptive websites, our researchers found the "Your Antivirus Has Expired" scam. We discovered two practically identical variants of it. Both claim that the McAfee anti-virus subscription has expired and urges users to renew it.

Usually, schemes of this type endorse untrustworthy and harmful software; however, our inspection uncovered that this scam does redirect to the official McAfee website. However, we must emphasize that "Your Antivirus Has Expired" itself is not associated with the McAfee Corp.

Your Antivirus Has Expired scam

"Your Antivirus Has Expired" scam overview

The two versions of "Your Antivirus Has Expired" that we encountered are practically the same. They are incredibly similar graphically and text-wise. The minor differences are certain words used in either (e.g., "system notice" vs. "expired", "software has expired" vs. "trail has expired", "update now" vs. "reactivate now", etc.).

While this scam does not outright claim that the visitor's system is infected, it does employ scare tactics to pressure them into following its instructions.

As previously mentioned, the variants of "Your Antivirus Has Expired" that we researched - promote the actual McAfee anti-virus, which is uncommon for such scams (typically, they push fake anti-viruses, adware, browser hijackers, and various PUAs). However, this promotion is neither undertaken nor approved by McAfee.

Scammers endorse legitimate products by using deceptive sites as they can acquire illegitimate commissions for the endorsement via affiliate programs.

Regardless of whether a scheme promotes genuine software or not, they are not to be trusted. Trusting scams of this kind may result in system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft. Therefore, we strongly recommend using official channels directly to acquire software.

Threat Summary:
Name Your Antivirus Has Expired pop-up
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Anti-virus subscription/trial has expired.
Disguise Scam is presented as an alert from McAfee.
Related Domains gadget-prizes[.]cloud
Detection Names (gadget-prizes[.]cloud) N/A (VirusTotal)
Serving IP Address (gadget-prizes[.]cloud) 104.21.6.133
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 Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft, possible malware infections.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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Similar scam examples

We have analyzed thousands of pop-up scams. "McAfee - Your PC is infected with 5 viruses!", "Kaspersky - Your PC is infected with 5 viruses!", "Your antivirus protection has expired" - are just a couple of examples akin to "Your Antivirus Has Expired".

There are many scam models; the most common ones include fake threat warnings, bogus outdated/missing software alerts, hoax lotteries and raffles, etc. Deceptive content is widespread online - hence, we highly recommend exercising caution when browsing.

How did I open a scam website?

Scam sites can be accessed by misspelling a webpage's domain (URL). Websites using rogue advertising networks can redirect to such pages when they are accessed or when hosted content (e.g., buttons, ads, links, etc.) is clicked. Spam browser notifications and intrusive advertisements are known to push online scams as well. Adware can deliver scam-promoting adverts or force-open their sites.

How to avoid visiting scam websites?

We advise against visiting/using websites offering questionable services (e.g., Torrenting, illegal streaming/downloading, etc.) since they usually employ rogue advertising networks, which commonly promote scams.

To avoid receiving deceptive content pushing browser notifications, do not press "Allow", "Allow Notifications", or similar options presented by suspicious webpages. Instead, ignore or deny them by clicking "Block", "Block Notifications", or analogous options.

Adware also endorses scams. Therefore, download only from official/verified sources and approach installation with care (e.g., study possible options, use "Custom/Advanced" settings, opt-out of all supplements, etc.). If your computer is already infected, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate all threats.

Text presented in "Your Antivirus Has Expired" scam pop-up:

SYSTEM NOTICE: ACTION REQUIRED


Your antivirus software has expired. Update now to reactivate protection.
[Accept Risk] [Update Now]


McAfee

The appearance of "Your Antivirus Has Expired" scam's alternative variant (GIF):

Your Antivirus Has Expired scam variant (GIF)

Text presented in this variant's pop-up:

EXPIRED; ACTION REQUIRED


Your antivirus trial has expired. Subscribe now to reactivate protection.


[Accept Risk] [Subscribe Now]


McAfee

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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?

Essentially, pop-up scams are deceptive messages designed to make users perform specific actions. For example, users can be tricked into downloading/installing and/or purchasing software, revealing private data, making monetary transactions, calling fake support lines, and so forth.

What is the purpose of a pop-up scam?

Scams are created to generate revenue for their designers, and those in the form of pop-ups are no different. Cyber criminals can profit by obtaining illegitimate commissions for the promotion of legitimate products, acquiring funds through deception (e.g., fake fees, purchases, etc.), abusing or selling personal information, proliferating malware, and so on.

Why do I encounter fake pop-ups?

Pop-up scams are promoted by shady webpages, which are rarely accessed intentionally. Most users enter them via redirects caused by sites using rogue advertising networks, mistyped URLs, spam browser notifications, intrusive adverts, or installed adware.

Will Combo Cleaner protect me from pop-up scams?

Combo Cleaner can scan visited websites and detect rogue, deceptive, and malicious ones. Additionally, it can restrict all further access to such sites.

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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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