Enjoy a safer life
by avoiding these online scams

When it comes to online scams, a little knowledge can make you more confident in your safety. Read on to learn about the most common types of scams, how to spot them, and how to avoid them.


Tip: Report fraudulent emails using the McAfee brand to spam@mcafee.com.

Phone Scams

Phone scams imitate real calls you might expect to receive. Some act friendly, others act urgent, and some use intimidation. In all cases, the goal is to get personal information and money.

Common phone scams:

Tech help scams​

The caller offers tech help for a problem you weren’t aware of. This scam often targets senior citizens.

Credit repair scams​

These offer to fix or remove credit issues and debt in return for money.

Charity scams​

​These calls will ask for urgently needed money today to help people in desperate need.

Extended car warranties​

These scammers will try and sell you overpriced or worthless car warranties.

Avoiding phone scams:

Hang up

Don’t let the caller know they reached a responsive phone number. By pressing buttons or trying to talk to an operator, you may be in for even more robocalls.


Use call blocking

Your phone carrier may provide a service to block known phone spam numbers or at least ID them for you when your phone rings.


Don’t rely on caller ID as proof

Phone scams have gotten better at making you think it is a legitimate number by “spoofing” an ID and displaying some type of official name. Some people even report seeing their own number calling them.


File a complaint through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint site

Click here to file your complaint online. Your filing will be routed directly to the correct law enforcement agency.

Chat Scams

Have you ever gotten a text message that seemed a little bit off or unexpected? It might be a fake text message aimed at getting your personal information – things like your password, account number, or Social Security number.

Common chat scams:

Fake package delivery

The text may offer a malicious link to confirm account details or ask for personal info.

Free prizes

These are the “too good to be true” announcements that you’ve won money, expensive watches, or handbags in return for your info.

Student loan assistance​

​Any kind of unsolicited debt repayment assistance should be viewed skeptically and confirmed independently from the sender.

Payment processing problems​

Be wary of texts saying a payment didn’t go through, especially if it asks for account info in order to approve the payment.

Avoiding chat scams:

Verify the message via a different source

If a friend, family member, bank, or any other business asks you for personal information or money, validate the request by calling the company or person making the request.


Beware of unknown or strange numbers

Chances are, you already have a friend or family member stored in your phone under a familiar name.


Notice poor grammar

If the text or chat is not using proper grammar, this is often a tip-off that it’s a bot or a scammer operating from a foreign locale.


Don’t respond

In the end, the safest response is no response at all. If the request is crucial, the company or acquaintance will attempt to contact you in multiple different ways.

Web Scams

Scammers defraud many people using internet services and software. The goal of these scams is to trick you into sending money or personal information.

Common web scams:

Fake commerce sites​​

Fake product sites used to sell products that are not worth the price paid or not delivered at all.

Credit card fraud​

Asking for credit card information to proceed on a website.


Software designed to disable your computer system for the scammers personal use or to simply damage it. It’s also a general term used for viruses, spyware, worms, trojans, and more.

Avoiding web scams:


Keep your computer software updated. Your operating system, web browsers and apps are constantly updating to adjust to the scammers’ new tricks. This includes keeping your McAfee subscription updated as well.


Buy from trusted sources. Do some research if you are not sure. McAfee Web Advisor is a great resource for helping identify some unsafe sites when you attempt to visit them.


Talk to your kids, family and friends. Make sure they are educated on the dangers of online scams.

Phishing Scams

Many of us have seen or been the target of a phishing attack. This is when a scammer pretends to be from a reputable company in order to get you to reveal personal information they can use. Phishing is often deployed through emails, website pop-ups, and even mobile apps.


Tip: At McAfee, we will only send you emails from domains such as @mcafee.com. Report scams to spam@mcafee.com and see our full list of McAfee domains.

Common phishing scams:

The mobile phish​​

Scammers distribute fake mobile apps that gather your personal information in the background or send text messages containing dangerous links.

File sharing & DocuSign​

Phony requests to access files in Dropbox and DocuSign accounts are on the rise, tricking workers into clicking on dangerous links.


You get a request to take a survey for a social issue you may care about. When you click that link, you could get infected with malware.

The CEO/Executive

The scam appears as an email from a leader in your organization, asking for sensitive information like company accounts, employee salaries, Social Security numbers, and client information.

The romance scam​

This one can happen completely online, over the phone, or in-person once contact is established. But the romance scam always starts with someone supposedly looking for love. The scammer often puts a phony ad online or poses as a friend-of-a-friend on social media and contacts you directly. But what starts as the promise of love or partnership often leads to requests for money or expensive gifts. The lure here is simple-love and acceptance.

The urgent email attachment​​

Phishing emails try to trick you into downloading a dangerous attachment giving a bad actor access to your computer. Such emails ask you to download attachments confirming a package delivery, trip itinerary, or prize.

Avoiding phishing scams:

Is this asking for too much information?

Be wary of anyone who asks for more information than they need, even if you are talking to a company or bank you do business with.


Do I know you?

Ask this simple question before responding to a message. First, check to see if you recognize the sender’s name and email address.


Is that a legitimate link?

If the text or chat is not using proper grammar, this is often a tip-off that it’s a bot or a scammer operating from a foreign locale.


Am I on the web page I think I’m on?

Before logging in to an online account, make sure the web address is correct. Phishers often forge legitimate websites, like online storage accounts, hoping to trick you into entering your login details.


Is it too good to be true?

Avoid “free” offers or deals that sound too good to be true.


Is my security software active?

Always use online protection to secure your devices and personal info from malware and other threats associated with phishing scams.

Email Scams

The most common email scams involve phishing. Phishing schemes take on the appearance of a legitimate email. They may even appear to be from a company you’re familiar with to exploit your trust and gain personal or financial information.


Tip: At McAfee, we will only send you emails from domains such as @mcafee.com. Report scams to spam@mcafee.com and see our full list of McAfee domains.

Common email scams:

Foreign lottery scam

You just won a big prize, often in a foreign country, but you must pay a small amount upfront to gain the larger reward.

Survey scam​

You get a request to take a survey for a social issue you may care about. When you click the link, you get infected with malware.

Banking scam

You receive an email saying there is something wrong with your bank or PayPal account that needs your attention. You’re then directed to a fake site where you attempt to log in so they can steal your username and password for the actual site.

Avoiding email scams:


If you don’t do business or haven’t requested information from a particular company, don’t click on any links or take any surveys.


Look at the sender’s email address. Does it match the content of the email? If not, stay away.


Avoid communications without personalization. “Dear valued customer” is a good tip to stay away.


Does the link in the email look odd? Most of the time, you can move your mouse over the link to see the link address. If it seems wrong, stay away.

Online Scams

These are scams that are frequently found online, even though they may be encountered other places. For instance, crowdfunding scams have exploded in popularity by exploiting popular crowdfunding platforms. .

Common online scams:

Prize scams​

You’ll be notified that you just “won” a nice prize like money, jewelry or a vacation. These scams will ask you to pay something upfront.

Crowdfunding scams​

Creators of the crowdsourced request promise a return for your small investment in their project but end up pocketing the money instead.

Payment through cryptocurrency​

One sure sign of an online scam is requiring payment in cryptocurrency. Wire transfer, gift card, or cryptocurrency ensures that if you pay, there’s almost no way for you to get that money back.

Avoiding online scams:


If a prize you won is too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research about the contest with a browser search. Many times you will find stories of others that have already been taken.


Never send money or gift cards to a person you have not met in person.


Research any crowdfunding campaigns to see feedback from others and if they have not delivered on their promises.


Senior Citizen Scams

The FBI has identified a number of online scams that specifically target the elderly.

Common senior citizen scams:

Grandparent scam

Criminals pose as a relative—usually a child or grandchild—claiming to be in immediate financial need.

The romance scam​

Criminals pose as interested romantic partners on social media or dating websites to capitalize on their elderly victims’ desire to find companions.

Tech support scam

​Criminals pose as technology support representatives and offer to fix non-existent computer issues. This may include posing as a cybersecurity company they’re familiar with. The scammers gain remote access to victims’ devices and sensitive information or bill them for services never needed or rendered.

Government impersonation scam​

Criminals pose as government employees and threaten to arrest or prosecute victims unless they agree to provide funds or other payments.

What to do if you or a loved one encounters a scam:

Recognize scam attempts

End all communication with the perpetrator.


Resist the pressure to act quickly

Scammers create a sense of urgency to produce fear and lure victims into immediate action.


Be cautious

Watch out for unsolicited phone calls, mailings, and door-to-door services offers.


Never give or send any personally identifiable information

Sending money, jewelry, gift cards, checks, or wire information to unverified people or businesses puts you in danger.


Use reputable anti-virus software.


Be careful what you download

Never open an email attachment from someone you don't know, and be wary of email attachments forwarded to you.


File a complaint through the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint site

Click here to file your complaint online. Your filing will be routed directly to the correct law enforcement agency.