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TMCNet:  BRIEF: Got a consumer complaint email? Beware, it could be a scam

[January 16, 2013]

BRIEF: Got a consumer complaint email? Beware, it could be a scam

Jan 16, 2013 (Los Angeles Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- YOU GET AN EMAIL FROM THE GOVERNMENT -- There's a consumer complaint against your business.

Your first impulse: Click on the link inside to see what's up.

This time, though, don't do it.

The subject line reads, "NOTIFICATION OF CONSUMER COMPLAINT," the FTC said.

Inside, a nasty surprise awaits: links to online sites that supposedly give information about the "complaint." But the whole thing is a fake. It's a ploy by hackers to get recipients of the email to click on a link that could install a virus or other kind of spyware on your computer.

That kind of malware, as security experts call it, can enable a hacker to "gain access to personal financial documents on a computer that might have account numbers or social security numbers," said Beth Givens, director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group in San Diego.

"It's the kind of information," Givens said, "that someone could use to start up a new account in their name." In other words -- identity theft.

The FTC's advice: "Delete the email." ___ (c)2013 the Los Angeles Times Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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