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How to get rid of fake McAfee virus pop-ups

Have you started receiving pop-ups with the McAfee logo warning about the expired protection against viruses? This is one of the main indicators telling you about scareware on your device. This scam mainly targets your credit card details resulting in financial losses and identity theft, so the first thing to do is immediately get a robust antivirus.

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In this article, we’ll help you learn what this virus poses and how to get rid of these fake McAfee virus pop-ups. You’ll also learn how to prevent getting infected with malware in the future.

What is the McAfee virus pop-up scam?

The McAfee virus pop-up scam, also known as the McAfee critical virus alert, is scareware that leverages fear and panic to get you to act fast, make malicious downloads, or hastily enter valuable personal information to buy bogus antivirus subscriptions.

McAfee popup

This scam often uses the well-known McAfee logo, trying to trick people into thinking it's a legitimate notification from an antivirus provider. It will tell you it has found viruses on your computer and that your subscription plan has expired, forcing you to click on the “Get protection” button to remove these threats.

Once the ad is clicked on, it can trigger a download of a malicious app or file on your device. It can also redirect you to a bogus website to enter personal credit card information under the guise of providing antivirus services. In this case, click the “Accept risk” option to close the pop-up and continue with further virus removal steps, like getting reliable antivirus software.

NameMcAfee virus pop-up or McAfee critical virus alert
TypeScam, adware, scareware
DeviceMost commonly found on Windows, but can appear on MacOS or Android
SymptomsAnnoying pop-ups and push notifications
DamageIf the pop-up is clicked on, a malicious app or file download can be automatically downloaded. It might also prompt you to enter valuable personal and financial information in an attempted phishing attack. If the pop-up is not clicked on, damage is usually avoided.

Why my browser displays fake McAfee notifications?

Malware doesn’t find its way to your device without some help. However, inviting it to your system isn’t complicated at all. Following a single infected link can let the virus settle on your computer. But this isn’t all, here are more reasons why your browser may display fake notifications:

  • Visiting a malicious site. If you accidentally visited a malicious site, that could be the reason your browser is showing you fake McAfee notifications. These sites can also introduce browser hijackers and adware to your system, making it more likely to see pop-up ad scams.
  • Malicious browser extensions. Adding a suspicious browser extension can trigger scam notifications. Stay aware of unknown or unverified extensions.
  • Suspicious downloads. From pirated software to accidental downloads, anything you’re introducing to your computer from a less than legitimate source could contain malware and viruses. You’re more likely to see fake McAfee notifications if this is the case.
  • Allowed notifications. Pesky pop-ups and push notifications will often ask you if you want to allow notifications from a certain site you visit. If you accidentally opt-in, this can cause your browser to start showing fake McAfee notifications.

Remember, if your browser is displaying a McAfee critical virus alert, it is likely a scam and not a truthful message from McAfee. If you don’t have McAfee installed on your computer, then you can safely assume this is a pop-up scam.

If you do have McAfee installed on your computer, look carefully at the ad. Are there spelling or grammar mistakes? Does the logo look unusual? These are clear signs that it is not an official message from McAfee. If you’re not sure, close the pop-up and open McAfee on your device to check your real notifications.

How to get rid of McAfee scam pop-ups

If you’ve been experiencing the McAfee pop-up scam, there are steps you can take to remove the root cause and prevent seeing these scam ads in the future. Keep reading for our full guide on getting rid of McAfee pop-up scams once and for all.

Step 1: Clear and reset your browser

Clearing stored data and resetting your browser might be enough to get rid of the fake McAfee virus pop-ups. All you need to do is follow these easy steps:

  1. Open your usual browser and navigate to its settings. On Chrome, as shown below, click on the three dots to the right of your account avatar. Under “More tools,” click on “Clear browsing dataClearing browsing data
  2. Navigate to the advanced “Clear browsing data” settings. You’ll be prompted to select what categories of data you want to delete. You can select all if you like, or leave “Passwords and other sign-in data” unchecked if you don’t want to lose this saved information Clearing all browsing data
  3. Select “All time” for the time range if you’re not sure when you would have visited a malicious site or come into contact with the cause of the fake McAfee pop-ups
  4. Hit “Clear data” and allow your system to completely clear and reset this information
  5. Now it’s time to reset the browser itself. If you’re using Chrome, click on the three dots again and select “Settings” from the options Resetting browsing settings
  6. You’ll be brought to a new window with the Settings menu along the left-hand side. Select “Reset settingsResetting settings
  7. Now, click on the banner that reads “Restore settings to their original defaultsRestoring to default settings
  8. You’ll see a pop-up asking you to confirm your choice. Simply click the blue “Reset settings” button to complete the action Confirming reset
  9. Now that your browser is reset and the stored data is cleared, you can move on to the next step in making sure the McAfee scam is removed from your system entirely

2. Remove any suspicious extensions or apps manually

Next, you’ll want to check to see if there are any suspicious extensions or apps in your system that might be the cause of the problem. These might have been added or downloaded without you even realizing it. You’ll want to remove these manually– here’s how:

  1. To see all your installed extensions, return to the three dots in your browser
  2. Go to “Extensions” and “Manage Extensions
  3. You’ll be brought to a new window that displays all your installed extensions. Simply select “Remove” for any extension you don’t recognize or that seems suspicious
  4. Next, review the installed programs or apps on your device
  5. For any you don’t recognize or seem suspicious, click “Uninstall” or drag to the trash if you’re using Mac
  6. If using Mac, make sure to empty the trash once all the suspicious programs have been dragged there

3. Run an antivirus scan

If you’ve been seeing the McAfee pop-up scam, there’s a chance that malware or a virus has made its way to your device. This is especially true if you accidentally clicked on the pop-up or triggered an unknown download in any way. Yet, a robust antivirus can still help you out, here’s how:

  1. Choose a reliable, comprehensive antivirus software. We recommend TotalAV for this
  2. Purchase your plan and download the software onto the device you’re concerned about
  3. Install and set it up on your device
  4. Once it’s installed, have it run a full antivirus scan of your system
  5. When the scan is complete, the software will show you any threats that it found. Follow its instructions to quarantine and remove the threats from your system
  6. Set up a schedule of regular scans and enable any real-time protection features

4. Enable an ad blocker

Now that you’ve deep cleaned your system, it’s time to make sure you’re protected in all your future browsing. Here’s how to enable a pop-up blocker to keep you from encountering the McAfee scam or other phishing attempts in the future:

  1. Choose a trusted ad blocker to protect your device. We recommend Total Adblock
  2. Add your ad blocker’s browser extension to your browser
  3. Download the ad blocker’s app on mobile devices and enable protection
  4. Enjoy a safer and ad-free browsing experience

How can I protect my PC against viruses?

Simple preventative measures are the best way to protect your PC against malware. Here are easy habits you can adopt to keep your computer as safe as possible whenever it’s in use.

  1. Only download legitimate software. Sometimes a high software price tag is enough to send people to look for a pirated alternative. However, installing pirated or programs of unknown origins can be a big threat to the security of your system. Consider legitimate software a worthwhile investment and avoid pirated versions.
  2. Stay away from suspicious websites. These types of sites (torrenting, unauthorized streaming, and adult content among others) can be a host for all kinds of pop-up scams and phishing attempts. Visit only known web pages with legitimately looking URLs.
  3. Close pop-ups carefully. If you do end up on a suspicious site and start experiencing pop-up scams, carefully close all threats you encounter. Be careful not to click anywhere on the ad except for the “X” that will close it.
  4. Clear cache regularly. Clearing your cookies and cache is always a good idea, especially if you’ve just stumbled on a shady website. Make it a habit to clear your cache for proper maintenance.
  5. Install available updates. Make sure you install new system or program updates whenever they’re available. These often contain new security patches to fix weaknesses discovered in previous versions.
  6. Run regular system scans. Installing comprehensive antivirus software, like TotalAV, is a great way to keep your system safe. You can set it up to run regular scans and enable real-time protection features.
  7. Set up an ad blocker. Choose a robust ad blocker that can protect you from pop-ups, push notifications, and online trackers.
  8. Stay calm. Pop-up scams rely on fear and panic to get you to act. Instead, stay calm, take a breath, simply close the threatening pop-up, and get reputable security software.


The fake McAfee pop-up scam is a common phishing tactic – just remember to safely close the ad and avoid entering any personal information. To stop getting these infected pop-ups, take some time to reset your browser, remove suspicious apps, and run an antivirus system scan.

We recommend TotalAV to keep you safe from pop-up scams and other scareware attacks. You can use the antivirus to scan your system to take care of existing threats and enable its real-time protection to keep you safe in the future.

Have you already tried removing the fake McAfee virus pop-ups? Let us know how it went in the comments section below.

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