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Trending Scams: Fake Protection from Fake Antivirus

Trending Scams: Fake Protection from Fake Antivirus


Trending Scams: Fake Protection from Fake Antivirus

A trending scam we’ve seen members fall victim to lately is a new version of a common scam with a twist. For years, fraudsters have used big-name companies in their communications to get the attention of consumers. In this scam, they’re portraying themselves as a reputable antivirus software company as a way to gain access to your device(s) and/or mine your personal, financial, and other information to steal your identity or banking information.


The claim:

An alarming message comes through claiming that your antivirus is expiring or has expired. The message will prompt you to renew your plan or sign up for new software. They always use a reputable antivirus software name to seem legit, such as McAfee, Webroot, Norton, TrendMicro, etc. They may even use copyrighted materials to make it look like it’s from the antivirus company, such as a company logo, the same color, and wording that their brand would use, or other things that make a scam seem legit. Remember, fraudsters are pros at making scams believable.

How the message is sent:

Messages are seen on a website. It could look like an ad on the side of a website, or can come through a pop-up. Sometimes these communications also come through the form of an email.

Where things go wrong:

After you click on the message that your antivirus has or is going to expire, a number of popups may show on your screen prompting you to call a number to restore your antivirus protection.

Once you’ve clicked the link, you’ve likely already given the fraudster access to your device, passwords, and other personal information. Most times once you’ve clicked the message/pop up you’re past the point of no return and it’s likely your device is already infected.

If you call the number prompted, though we recommend that you don’t, the fraudster on the other line may seem friendly at first, gathering information slowly acting as if they’re assisting you to re-setup your device protection. In reality, they’re working their way to get information from you as a process to steal your identity. Sometimes, the fraudster may even claim you’ve been set up or say they’d release your computer back to you if you pay them money.

Red Flags:

  • Alarming or urgent messages your antivirus software is expiring or has expired on a website or unsolicited email.
  • They claim you cannot access your computer without paying money. This is known as a ransome Scam, where they ask for funds to return something that is rightfully yours. However, they likely will take the money and run with the information they’ve already stolen from your device, and may not restore your access.
  • If they ask for payment immediately, or if they ask to access your devices or bank account.
  • If they ask for payment in the form of gift cards.
  • The message represents a different antivirus software company name than what you actually have.

Best Practices:

  • Never pay the requested ransom, you’ll be out that money, never to be regained, and the scammer has likely already taken what they wanted.
  • Never click on unsolicited messages or answer texts/emails you do not expect or recognize. This may install malicious software that can overtake your device and give fraudsters access.
  • Don’t call the prompted number; instead, look up a legitimate number for the retailer on their official website and talk with a representative that way.
  • If you do call the prompted number and you have a bad gut feeling, hang up.
  • Access your antivirus software account directly from their legitimate site or app that you always use to see whether the claim is true or not.
  • Disable pop-ups on your web browser settings.
  • Set a reminder when your antivirus is set to expire so you know when to go to your account to renew, or set up or auto-renewal.


If you ever feel as though you have fallen victim to a scam, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Fraud Department at CSE. We are committed to helping you avoid or recover from scams and can provide you with guidance and/or resources to help.



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