Like the Big Bad Wolf dressing up as Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, scammers often disguise themselves as a trusted source. One responsibility of the Federal Trade Commission is to protect consumers from such tricks—so what better way to disguise a scam e-mail than to dress it up in the mantle of the FTC?
In the last year, e-mails that purport to be from the FTC Fraud Department have been circulating with links and attachments that, if opened, infect the victim’s computer with a virus that can grab sensitive material—including passwords and account numbers. The personalized e-mail bears the FTC seal and features a bogus address, email@example.com. It instructs the recipient to open an attached copy of a “complaint” filed with the FTC against the recipient or the recipient’s business.
Like many fraudulent e-mails, this one is distinguishable by its grammatical errors, misspellings and incorrect syntax, says Jackie Dizdul, an FTC public affairs specialist. People can protect themselves by contacting an e-mail’s source to verify its validity.
Anyone who receives the phony FTC e-mail should forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org—an FTC spam investigation database—and then delete it. Don’t open any attachments or click any links.