Malware Costs Us All

Right before Thanksgiving 2011, BBB became part of a huge phishing scam that continues to this day. Millions of pieces of email bearing our name and/or logo have been sent to consumers and business owners in the hopes the recipient will click on a link or open an attachment that launches malware. We responded aggressively to this illegal use of our name by assigning an IT professional on our national staff to manage the problem on the full-time basis, hiring a third-party vendor to help us shut down the referring websites, and launching BBB Scam Stopper ( to educate consumers about all kinds of scams.

Technology blogger Dan Steiner has an interesting post yesterday that just happened to mention “our” scam. He notes that globally malware is now a $100 billion problem, and he says all business owners need to think of IT security as a business necessity, not a luxury:

“How does malware hurt a business? By far the most damaging of cost of malware is on business reputation. Google, the world’s most popular search engine, protects users with its Safe Browsing Feature. If an online business, no matter how reputable, accidentally distributes a virus, Google automatically flags it. This leads to an ominous surfer warning or even removal from Google search results. Although a site can eventually be removed from blacklisting, it means weeks or months of lost business.  A lull like that is the kiss of death for many businesses.”

Read the whole story here on Business2Community.

For any email that you suspect may be a phishing scam:

  1. Do NOT click on any links or attachments.
  2. Read the email carefully for signs that it may be fake (for example, misspellings, grammar, generic greetings such as “Dear member” instead of a name, etc.).
  3. Be wary of any urgent instructions to take specified action such as “Click on the link or your account will be closed.”
  4. Hover your mouse over links without clicking to see if the address is truly from the sender. The URL in the text should match the URL that your mouse detects. If the two do not match, it is most likely a scam.
  5. Delete the email from your computer completely (be sure to empty your “trash can” or “recycling bin,” as well).
  6. Run anti-virus software updates frequently and do a full system scan.
  7. Keep a close eye on your bank statements for any unexpected or unexplained transactions.

If the email says it is from BBB but you believe it’s a fake, send a copy to (Note: This address is only for scams that use the BBB name or logo). If you have a business and are not certain whether the complaint is legitimate, contact your local BBB (

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About Katherine Hutt

Katherine R. Hutt, Director of Communications and Media Relations with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is an award-winning communicator who has been helping nonprofit organizations tell their stories for the past 25 years. She was a CBBB consultant on numerous projects for more than a decade before joining the staff in 2011.