Tech

What Is the McAfee Virus Pop-Up Scam? How to Get Rid of It


Has a McAfee pop-up randomly appeared on your screen informing you that your subscription has expired and your system is at risk of virus attacks? If you use McAfee antivirus or other related tools from the company, your subscription may have genuinely expired. However, if you don’t use any McAfee tools and received this pop-up out of the blue, it’s probably a scam.


How does this pop-up scam work? What should you do if you receive this email? And, if you have already fallen victim to it, how can you protect yourself?


What Is the McAfee Fake Pop-Up Scam?

McAfee Fake Subscription Expiry Pop-Up

The McAfee fake subscription expired notification is a pop-up scam designed to appear like an official subscription expiration notice for McAfee antivirus, one of the most widely used antivirus suites. The pop-up informs victims that their subscription has expired and their device is no longer protected.

Scammers play with their victims’ minds by giving them two options in the pop-up: “Accept risk” or “Get protection.” The “Accept risk” option means not taking action and closing the pop-up, apparently exposing the device to threats. The “Get protection” conveys the notion that the user is trying to protect their device again.

Users get tricked and click the “Get protection” option, which redirects them to a fake subscription renewal page, set up by scammers.

How Does the McAfee Fake Pop-Up Scam Work?

closeup shot of fake money and scam letters on table

When victims click the button and land on the phishing page set up by cybercriminals, the scam can take many forms.

Scammers may ask you to renew your subscription through a fake page. By tricking you into seemingly paying the subscription fee, the tricksters will gain access to a valuable asset: your credit card information. When you give scammers access to your credit details, they will abuse it to the fullest extent.

If cybercriminals don’t follow this route, they will exploit you in other ways.

  • The scammers may direct you to call or email them, where they will entice you to complete the scam.
  • To appear friendly, they may offer to download free, but actually malicious, software in place of McAfee antivirus if you don’t want to subscribe.
  • As part of the trap, they might offer you free access to McAfee antivirus premium by instructing you to run malicious executable crack files.
  • The perpetrators may ask you for confidential information, such as your social security number, which they will later exploit.

The list goes on and on…

How to Spot the Fake McAfee Pop-Up Scam

The fake McAfee pop-up scam is easy to spot. If you do not use a McAfee product, the pop-up is a scam. If you use McAfee antivirus but get this pop-up randomly even when McAfee antivirus software isn’t open, it’s probably a fake alert from a scammer. Similarly, if you encounter it on a website or as a push notification, it should be clear that it’s not real.

How to Deal With the Fake McAfee Pop-Up Scam

graphic of money being stolen through laptop

When you receive a McAfee subscription expiry notification as a pop-up, make sure it’s not an official notice. Do you use McAfee? If not, it’s fake. If you do use McAfee, navigate away from the pop-up and open your antivirus; any notifications should come up there if it’s genuine. If you’re confident it’s a scam, close the pop-up without clicking on it. This might mean shutting down your browser.

If you encounter this pop-up on a website, close the webpage and don’t return to it. If you’ve encountered this as a push notification, you’ve probably allowed a malicious website to send you such prompts. You need to block these annoying notifications on your browser to avoid encountering them in the future.

If you see this pop-up when browsing through your device randomly, without having your browser open, scan your device for malware to ensure it isn’t infected. If that doesn’t work, check your list of recently installed apps and remove any suspicious software on your Windows or macOS device, particularly if you don’t remember installing it.

Apart from scanning your device with built-in tools, you should also scan your device with third-party virus removal tools to guarantee that your device is malware free.

Did You Fall for the McAfee Pop-Up Scam? Here’s What to Do Next

Laptop with scam alert written on it

Depending on how much information you’ve already disclosed to scammers, minimizing the damage could be challenging.

If you have only opened the pop-up and landed on the scammer’s webpage, close both the website and the pop-up, and you’re good to go. It’s worth scanning your system with a real antivirus suite to make sure nothing malicious has been downloaded too. If you have paid scammers to seemingly subscribe to the offer, contact your bank immediately and ask for the payment to be stopped or for a refund. Likewise, if you have used your credit card to subscribe to the offer, contact your bank to have your credit or debit card frozen.

Delete any free software offered to you by scammers as a replacement for McAfee antivirus if you have already downloaded it, and properly scan your computer. Moreover, keep an eye out for phishing email links if you have disclosed your email address. The scammers will likely target you multiple times from even legitimate-looking email addresses, so be careful.

Additionally, if you have visited a suspicious webpage, ensure that your browser has not been hijacked, and then remove any hijackers from it. In addition, make sure the hackers haven’t retrieved any other data saved on your browser. Change saved passwords, credit card details, and other information for your safety.

How to Get Rid of McAfee Fake Pop-Ups

Follow these tips to avoid being scammed by fake pop-ups in the future:

  • To avoid seeing pop-ups, enable a pop-up blocker on your browser (Edge, Firefox, or Chrome).
  • Use the software’s portal to renew your subscriptions instead of clicking on pop-ups.
  • No matter how appealing the advertisements appear on websites, don’t click on them.
  • Only download files from official websites, as third-party ones can lead to a trap.

Beware of Fake McAfee Pop-Up Scams

Creative scammers behind pop-up scams easily fool victims by making them appear official. They successfully lure people into their traps using real company names in their notifications.

Hopefully, by understanding how the McAfee pop-up scam works, you’ll be able to avoid it easily when you come across it. If you’ve already fallen for it, our tips should be sufficient to minimize the damage.

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