Gmail scam alert! Fraudsters are always at it, you could be next!
Every minute 19 Americans get their identities stolen. Each year at least 10 million Americans fall victim to identify theft, according to TransUnion.
Crooks are always on the prowl, devising clever schemes to steal unsuspecting people’s identity. The latest scam comes in the form of an email designed to look just like one you’d get from Google about your Google account. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) in a recent bulletin says these emails are intentionally designed to fool you into believing they are legit, but they carry malware – software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems.
“You receive an email that appears to be a message about your Google or Gmail account,” the BBB says. “One version of this scam informs you that, “You have exceeded your email limit quota.” Another tells you that, “you have a deferred email.” The text is hyperlinked in both, implying that you should click for more information. Don’t do it!”
Microsoft says malware is short for “malicious software” and describes it is as any kind of unwanted software that is installed without your adequate consent. Examples of malicious malware are viruses, worms, and Trojan horses.
According to the BBB, referencing the fake email scam from Google, “Clicking on the link will download malware to your computer. Once on your machine, it can hunt through your files for personal and banking information. This opens you up to the possibility of ID theft.”
Unsuspecting users fall prey to these scams primarily because they look like the real deal.
“These scam emails are particularly tricky because they look so real. They have details like Google’s address in the footer. One version actually has a link to “unsubscribe” and “change my notification settings.” Be sure not to click these links because they also may contain malware,” the BBB warns.
Here’s how the BBB says you can spot these scams to avoid falling victim:
- Scrutinize the “From” field: “Scammers have the ability to mask email addresses, making the message appear to come from a legitimate source. But they don’t always use it. In this scam, the “Google” emails aren’t actually from a @google.com address.”
- Check for typos, strange phrasing and bad grammar. “Scammers can easily copy a brand’s logo and email format, but awkward wording and poor grammar are typically a giveaway that the message is a scam. In the example above, the phrases “limit quota” and “deferred email” are a sign that something’s not right.”
- Hover over URLs to reveal their true destination. “Typically, the hyperlinked text will say one thing, but the link will point somewhere else. Scammers either set up fake websites or hack into third-party sites and use them to host malware.
- Look out for look-alike URLs. “Be wary of sites that have the brand name as a subdomain of another URL (i.e. brandname.scamwebsite.com) or part of a longer URL (i.e. companynamecustomersupport.com).”
Remember, scammers do not discriminate so anyone is fair game. Once crooks steal your identity they can use your information to wreak debt havoc in your name.
They can open accounts and take credit in your name; change the billing address on your credit card and go on a shopping spree to charge who knows what or commit utilities fraud; open bank accounts and write bad checks in your name; duplicate your ATM or debit cards with the purpose of withdrawing your money electronically; take out loans in your name and not pay it off of course. They may also get a driver’s license or I.D. in your name with a photo of themselves.
All of these scenarios could mess up your credit score and credit history, and it may take a long time to clean it all up. So, be vigilant, do your part to keep your identity safe from the peering eyes and hands of fraudsters and scammers.
Remember that email asking you to click on a link isn’t from Google so do not click on it.
For more information about scams impersonating Gmail and other Google products, check out support.google.com.
To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper.