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The FBI has released a warning indicating that cyber criminals are engaged in heavy spam campaigns as part a deliberate effort by cyber criminals to deploy malicious password stealing software. Emails referencing ACH activity are specifically referenced in this FBI warning however there are a lot of different emails in circulation.

So, how can we recognize fraudulent emails? Unfortunately, as phishing attacks become more sophisticated, it can be very difficult to tell if a message is fraudulent; this is why these schemes are so common and successful. However, there are things we can be on the lookout for:

  • Requests for personal information in an e-mail message - Most legitimate businesses have a policy that they do not ask you for your personal information through e-mail. Be very suspicious of a message that asks for personal information even if it might look legitimate.

  • Urgent wording - The wording used in phishing e-mail messages is usually polite and accommodating in tone. It almost always tries to get you to respond to the message or to click the link that is included. To increase the number of responses, criminals attempt to create a sense of urgency so that people immediately respond without thinking. Usually, fake e-mail messages are NOT personalized, while valid messages from your bank or e-commerce company generally are.

  • Fraudulent web site links - Phishers are getting very sophisticated in their ability to create misleading links, to the point where it is almost impossible to tell if the link is legitimate or not. Fraudulent web sites are frequently infected with malicious software; simply visiting these sites can result in an attempt to install malware on your computer.

    • Some web site links in a fraudulent email might be masked, meaning that the link you see does not take you to that address but somewhere different. It's always best to type in the web address you know to be correct into your browser. Do not copy and paste web site links from messages into your browser;

    • Be very wary of any web site links that contain the @ symbol, this is because browsers ignore anything in the web address that comes before the @ sign. For example – https://www.woodgrovebank.com@nl.tv/secure_verification.aspx - this address might look as if it is associated with Wood Grove Bank, but the real location is nl.tv/secure_verification.aspx

    • Another common technique that has been used is a web site address that at first glance is the name of a well-known company but on closer scrutiny is slightly altered. For example, www.microsoft.com could appear instead as, www.micosoft.com, www.verify-microsoft.com or www.mircosoft.com

  • Message body is an image - To avoid detection by spam filters, phishing schemes often use an image instead of text in the message body. You can recognize an image in an email because when you rest the pointer on the message body, the pointer becomes a hand.

  • Attachments - Many phishing schemes ask you to open attachments, which can then infect your computer with a virus.

  • Promises that seem too good to be true Use common sense and be suspicious when you are offered money or discounts that seem too good to be true.

Should you receive a fraudulent email do not open any attachment or click on any links in the body of the email; please delete the email.

If you have clicked on the link you should perform a virus check on your computer.