Connecticut BBB: Macy’s to Walgreens have been impersonated online

With the big end-of-year holiday shopping season over, scammers have turned their attention to a number of spam emails that are circulating around the country, according to Better Business Bureau.  Their common goal is to entice, distract or frighten you into responding to a call to action without considering potential consequences.

The aim of these emails is to get you to divulge personal or financial information or get you to click on a link that allows criminals to steal information from or take control of your computer.

The Survey Scam – You receive an email with subject line along the lines of: “Your Reward Points are Expiring.  Claim Now!” or “Your eBalance Points are Expiring Soon!”  The email uses the name of a well-known store.

Many brands, from Macy’s to Walgreens, have been impersonated.

If you open it, the email says that you’ve been selected to complete a survey about your recent customer experience and that you will receive $100 or more in “bonus points” if you click on a link to complete a questionnaire.

The link in these survey scam emails can result in actions that range from annoying to fraudulent.  The link may lead to a real survey, which upon completion, prompts you to purchase questionable products such as diet pills and wrinkle cream.  In other versions, the form is actually a phishing scam that requests banking and credit card information.  In addition, the link may also download malware to your computer.

The Background Check – The subject line reads, “Someone recently viewed your background information,” and the email claims that someone, “has just recently ordered the results of your background check,” according to a BBB alert.  At the bottom of the message is a link to find out more.  This email is a scam, and the link will download malware to your computer.

The Frozen Account – This is an ever-evolving phishing scam.  Most recently, variations involve emails that look like they come from an “Apple Team Support Agent,” insisting the recipient click on a link to update information or their account will be frozen “to protect it.”

There are dozens of similar phishing emails purportedly from financial institutions, government agencies, email providers, software companies and more.  Other phishing emails are dressed-up to look like bailiff notices and threatening emails from would-be collection agencies.

How to Spot a Scam Email:

In general, it’s best not to click on links or open attachments that come in any unsolicited emails.  Here are some more ways to spot and avoid a malicious email just in case it manages to work its way past your spam filter:

The email claims to have information about you, but you never signed up for it – Scams often pretend to be personalized for you, but they are actually email blasts that use a shotgun approach, with the goal of getting a response from any one of hundreds of thousands of recipients.  If you never signed up for emails from a company, you should not be receiving them.

It pushes you to act immediately – Scammers typically try to cajole you into action before you have had time to think.  Always be wary of emails urging you to act immediately or face some sort of consequence.

Watch for typos, strange phrasing and poor grammar – Scammers can easily copy a brand’s logo and email format, but awkward wording and poor grammar typically are a giveaway that the message may originate in another country and is a scam.

Hover to discover – Typically, hyperlinked text in phishing emails will say one thing, but point somewhere else.  How can you tell?  Hover your mouse – don’t click – over the link and a web address will pop up.   Ensure the web address that pops-up matches the stated destination of the text, not a variation of the domain name.

You will find additional helpful tips in the “Get Consumer Help” section at bbb.org/connecticut.

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