Warning about “fake ticket” scams

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

 

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns consumers about a new spam email scam in which perpetrators try to trick you into downloading damaging computer programs.

The FTC says it happened to some Seattle government employees who received deceptive emails from overseas scammers that were designed to look as if they were from the city’s Department of Motor Vehicles. (Never mind that Seattle doesn’t have its own DMV.) The email asked the recipients to complete a linked form. Once the link was clicked, a "malware program," or destructive software, installed itself and infected the consumer’s computer:

Although this particular spam campaign is recent – the Seattle Police Department reported it Jan. 19 and the emails apparently were sent from a domain registered in Ukraine earlier in the month – it’s not a new kind of scam. Last August, a number of police departments across the country warned consumers about spam campaigns involving alleged “Uniform Traffic Tickets” emailed from state police departments. If a recipient opened the email and clicked on the attached “ticket,” a malicious program installed itself on the person’s computer. This scam and others like it take advantage of the public trust in communications sent from government entities.

How can you protect yourself – and your computer – from these spam campaigns? Read your emails carefully. For example, the Seattle version used a European date format: day/month/year. Another clue: municipalities, including Seattle, don’t email traffic tickets – they mail them. Ask yourself, how would the government entity know my email?

Keep your computer's security software up to date. Up to date protection might prevent "malware" and other damaging programs, such as viruses and worms, from being installed on your computer.

For more information on how to be on guard against this kind of fraud and secure your computer, visit the FTC’s On Guard, Online.

 

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