Phishing For Victims

Phishing scams look like legitimate email, and they are getting more sophisticated every day. What these con artists are really after is your banking and financial information. And they won't mind destroying your computer to get it.

Once again, scammers are sending emails that appear to come from your trusted Better Business Bureau (BBB). They'll tell you that a complaint has been registered against your business, or that a customer has submitted a review of your business. (It doesn't matter that you might not even OWN a business.)

The email will ask you to download and complete an attached form, or it will ask you to click on a link to view and respond to the consumer posting. “Don't do either!” warned BBB President Jim Hegarty.

The "attached form" is actually an executable file that will drop a nasty virus onto your system. Next, you'll see a pop-up message that claims your computer is infected with dozens of viruses, and that will offer to clean your system for a fee. If you provide your credit card or banking information to have your system cleaned, you will waste your money, and the scammers will then have access to your funds and will steal even more of your money.

The links in the bogus email are dangerous, as well. They look like a link to a BBB page, but the code behind the link will actually route your browser to a website where malware is dropped onto your computer. The malware is written in such a way that it usually passes by anti-virus programs undetected. Once the malware is in place, the scammer can "sniff" for your banking information (including user names and passwords), and can use your system to send more scam emails out to your contacts under your name.

Here are 3 easy ways to know if a complaint you receive from the BBB is legitimate or not:

1. Businesses may get complaints via email, but only if the organization signed up for this option when it became accredited. If a business had not acknowledged it wants to receive complaints through email, then the complaint will be sent by fax or traditional mail.

2. Look at the email signature. A legitimate email complaint from your BBB will be from one of the following people: Carolyn Sheets, Susan Dylla, Nancy Henrichs, Tricia Harper or Sheila Valko. It will not be signed - "BBB Complaint Staff". If it's not signed by one of these four people, then it's not real.

3. All complaints from your BBB start with 3000. If the complaint starts with any other combination of numbers, then it's a phishing scam email. You should delete it right away.

The bottom line is this - Businesses can always check with the BBB at 800-649-6814 to confirm the legitimacy of any email purporting to come from BBB. Remember, never click on a link in an email or download an attachment until you confirm that it is authentic.

BBB is requesting that you forward any bogus emails, claiming to come from BBB, to the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB), BBB’s national headquarters at phishing@council.bbb.org. Don't worry if you receive a notification that the email could not be delivered because of an attached virus. They are pulled from quarantine and examined anyway. If you need personal assistance with a suspicious email, contact us at 800-649-6814.

“The BBB system is doing everything it can to stop these scammers who are relentless in their phishing attacks using our good name. The BBB thanks businesses and consumers for their cooperation, understanding and continued support,” stated Hegarty.

Better Business Bureau, Inc. (BBB) has been serving U.S consumers and businesses for 100 years and is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing trust in the marketplace. Accountability, education and recognition of business role models are key components to the BBB's mission. Today BBB serving Nebraska, South Dakota the Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa is supported by approximately 10,000 Accredited Businesses that have voluntarily committed to adhere to BBB’s Standards of Trust. Consumers are encouraged to visit bbb.org for Business Reviews on over 4 million companies or to report complaints and possible scams


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