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Better Business Bureau releases warning over email phishing scam

By: Sara Wilson

  |  Posted: Thursday, Feb 27, 2014 10:48 am

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The Better Business Bureau (BBB) released a warning to residents and business in southern Alberta, including Rocky View County, of an email phishing scam, Feb. 20.

Scammers are using the front of a funeral notice to prey on the emotions and vulnerability of those grieving the loss of a loved one.

According to the BBB, targets receive an email with “funeral notification” as the subject line. Scammers are using realistic looking logos, business names and email addresses, to assume that the email is legitimate.

The message offers condolences on the recent passing of your “friend,” whose name is not specified.

You are then prompted to click on a link for the details of the upcoming “life service celebration.”

If you click on the link, you will be re-directed to a foreign domain, which acts as a gateway for scammers to install harmful malware onto your computer, the BBB warned. If this happens, scammers could have access to the personal information stored on your device.

“People receive countless emails each day, which is why scammers try to grab your attention with something as serious as the death of a loved one,” said Sandra Crozier-McKee, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay.

“If no one in your family or circle of friends has passed then you should delete the email. But if by chance you have recently suffered the loss of a loved one, contact your friends and family about the funeral arrangements.”

According to the BBB, there are an estimated 156 million phishing emails sent every day, with the fraudulent funeral notice as the latest version.

BBB provides consumers with these common red flags of email phishing scams:

• Don’t believe what you see. As in the example above, scammers can easily copy a real business’ colours, logo and even email address.

• Hover over links to check their source. Place your mouse over hyper-linked text and the true destination will appear.

• Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. As always, do not click on links or open the files in emails unless you know sender and are expecting it.

• Beware of pop-ups. Some pop-ups are designed to look like they’ve originated from your computer. If you see a pop-up that warns of a problem that needs to be fixed with an extreme level of urgency, it may be a scam.

• Watch for poor grammar and spelling. Scam emails often are riddled with typos and usually indicate that English is not the writer’s primary language.

• Ignore calls for immediate action. Scam emails try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency. Don’t fall for it!

• Update your antivirus. Regularly updating your security software will go a long way in protecting your computer should you happen to click on a malicious link.

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