McAfee scam email warning: check your inbox for these common threats

McAfee antivirus products

McAfee scam emails regularly evade detection and trick people into believing their antivirus protection is expiring. Here’s how to spot them.

Fake antivirus emails are a long-held scamming tactic. And McAfee scam emails have become some of the most common in recent years.

The latest scams are often reworked versions of scams which have previously worked for fraudsters. This is why it’s important to know how to spot a scam

Last year Action Fraud reported that it had received more than 2,800 reports of fake McAfee emails which led to the removal of 144k scam URLs.

Scammers have clearly seen results when impersonating antivirus software: similar emails have continued over the years and this year is no different. But what do the McAfee scam emails look like and why are they so popular for fraudsters?

What does a McAfee scam email look like?

A screenshot of a McAfee scam email

These fake McAfee emails may at first appear to be fairly obvious fakes – they’re littered with spelling and grammar mistakes. They also originate from emails that clearly have nothing to do with McAfee itself.

But the content of the emails isn’t as important as what the scammers want you to feel when you receive them. As with so many fake emails and texts, the goal is to create a sense of panic. It does this with claims that your antivirus software ‘expired today’, ‘may have ended’ or that a ‘special discount’ is only valid for a limited time.

They’re also aiming to catch you off-guard by impersonating the very software you’d expect to protect you from online attacks. It’s hoped that your trust in the McAfee name will lead to you not questioning any correspondence.

Two McAfee scam email screenshots side-by-side

If the emails are read in a rush, or sadly find a victim who may not be as well-versed in fraud tactics as others, it could be enough to encourage them to click through. The next step is to make a payment to the fraudsters.

The websites that these fake emails take you to have nothing to do with McAfee, only existing to capture sensitive personal information, such as your bank or card details.

If you’re ever unsure if an email is genuine, it’s vital you don’t panic. Take the time to contact McAfee via its official channels. And don’t call any numbers or click any links on the suspicious email when you do this. 

You can then ask McAfee to confirm if it has sent you any correspondence, and find out the current status of any subscription you may have.

McAfee has also published a list of its legitimate email domains.

I’ve been taken in by a McAfee scam email. What should I do?

Do you think you may have entered sensitive information, such as your bank or card details, into a third-party site you were taken to by a suspicious ‘McAfee’ email? If so, you need to let your bank know what’s happened ASAP.

Most of the big banks use the Stop Scams UK scheme, so your first action should be calling the 159 hotline. Alternatively, use your bank’s official fraud hotline.

Your bank should work with you to cancel your card, block any pending payments (if required) and refund the money you’ve lost.

You should also then keep an eye out for any follow-up scams that could occur if you’ve given contact details – such as your email address, postal address or phone number – away to fraudsters. Treat any contact you receive out of the blue with caution.

How can I report McAfee scam emails?

Fake emails and phishing websites can be reported to the National Cyber Security Centre at [email protected]. Action can then be taken to remove these websites. 

Plus McAfee is also one of a growing number of brands to have its own dedicated reporting email: [email protected]

If you’re also going to warn friends and family about a fake email, send them a screenshot – never forward the email directly.