Antivirus Renewal Email May Be Scam

John Lister's picture

Scammers are using bogus antivirus renewal demands as their latest money-grabbing tactics. The attacks appear to target both people's money and their account details.

The warning came from consumer group "Which" after it spotted two different fake emails. One supposedly comes from McAfee and the other from Norton Antivirus, both claiming a subscription is about to end. (Source:

It's another case of playing the numbers game: while many people will either not use these products or will spot the scam, the popularity means that simply spraying out emails will eventually find customers of the real security software who get taken in.

Targeting renewals of security software is doubly effective: it plays on people's fear of malware and viruses, and it's an easier sell than trying to get somebody to buy a product in the first place.

$542 Renewal A Shock

The McAfee email is more of a classic scam, simply posing as a renewal notice and including a link to supposedly pay for another year of protection. Of course, it actually links to a bogus page where the scammers take the payment.

The Norton email is a little more creative as it falsely claims the subscription has already automatically renewed at the unlikely price of $542.68 for two years. It invites the recipient to contact the billing department if they want to cancel the renewal.

In this case the large figure is designed to shock the recipient into action and let down their guard, leaving them prey to the scammers asking for confirmation of their bank or credit card and account details to process the cancellation. (Source:

Typos A Tip-Off

Which notices the emails have a few signs of being bogus including spelling errors and missing logos. There's a good chance that the scammers have done this deliberately, the logic being they then don't have to waste their time with more savvy recipients who would be less likely to be taken in by the next step of the operation.

It's difficult to avoid such scams completely as security software companies emailing customers about a renewal can be both legitimate and necessary. The safest policy is to never click on any link in a message relating to accounts or payments and instead to go directly to the website of the company in question to access the account.

What's Your Opinion?

Have you seen messages similar to this? How do you look out for bogus emails? Should companies targeted by such scams send warnings to customers?

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