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Better Business Bureau ®
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Central South Carolina and Charleston
How Fake FTC Emails are Tricking Business Owners
March 14, 2013

A new phishing scam is making the rounds disguised as a consumer complaint notification from the FTC. If you receive it, just hit "delete." 
 
How the Scam Works:

You get an email that appears to be from the FTC with the subject line: "Notification of a Consumer Complaint." (Sample email below) The email states that a complaint has been filed against your business, and you need to review and respond to the allegations.
 
The email provides a link for you to supposedly click through to the FTC website and download a PDF of the complaint details. The link really goes to a third party website, and the file you download is actually malware that scans your computer for personal and banking information.FTC email

Like most scams, this one is not set in stone. Several variations already exist, and scammers will continue to alter the emails as news of the con spreads. Watch out for changes in the subject line and the complaint details. Older reports of the scam involve emails that urge recipients to call a fake FTC help hotline or complete an online complaint form.  

How to Spot a Phishing Email:  

  • Don't believe what you see. Scammers can make links look like they lead to legitimate websites (as in the example above) and emails appear to come from a different sender. It's also easy to steal the colors, logos and email header of the FTC or any other established organization.
  • Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. Do not click on the links or open the files.
  • Check a link's true destination by hovering over it and looking in the lower right hand corner of your browser.
  • Try Googling the organization or the contents of the email. If the email is a scam, this is likely to reveal an alert or bring you to the organization's real website, where they may have posted further information.

For More Information
  
Check out the Federal Trade Commission's official warning about the scam.
 
To find out more about scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper.