Don’t be fooled by fake funeral notices

February 13, 2014

Email users are becoming more savvy about spotting scam messages. So scammers are always on the hunt for new ways to evade the "delete" button and entice you to download their malware. Scam emails disguised as funeral notifications reach a new low for scammers and unfortunately increase the chances that you might fall victim to their con.

How the Scam Works:

You receive an email with the subject line "funeral notification." The message appears to be from a legitimate funeral home, offers condolences and invites you to click on a link for more information of an upcoming "celebration of your friends life service." The notice does not disclose the name of your “friend” and instead of pointing you to the funeral home's website, the link to view the invitation and "more detailed information about the farewell ceremony" sends you to a foreign domain. Scammers place malware on these third party websites that download onto your computer, giving scammers access to personal information on your machine.

Malware, short for “malicious software," includes viruses and spyware that is installed on your computer without your consent. These programs can cause your device to crash and can be used to monitor and record your online activity. Scammers use malware to steal personal information, send spam, and commit other fraud.

As always, watch for scammers changing up this con. They may hijack any funeral home's name and/or change their message.

Tips to Avoid Email Scams:

Spot common email scams no matter the circumstances, by following these tips:

  • Don't believe what you see. As in the example above, scammers can easily copy a real business' colors, 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.

As with any scam, you can’t completely insulate yourself but you can take action to lessen your chances of becoming a victim.

For more tips you can trust, visit

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Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Georgia & the CSRA, Inc. serving 41 counties in Central Georgia and the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB at Phone: 1-800-763-4222, Web site: or E-mail: or