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Friday, Feb 21 2014 04:52 PM

ACTION LINE: Hit 'delete' on new fake funeral email notices

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    By Contributed photo

    Blair Looney, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Central California.

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BY BLAIR LOONEY Contributing columnist

Dear Action Line: Recently I received an email with the subject line "Funeral notification" from a funeral home in California.

The email invited me to an upcoming "celebration for life service" and stated it was for a friend of mine, but didn't provide any further details of the service. Instead the email requested that I click on a link for further details of the service.

With sensitive matters, I preferred to speak with someone on the phone rather than click on an email link. Since the email didn't include a contact number for the funeral home, I decided to search for information on the company online.

After multiple searches, it really started to bother me that I couldn't find a contact number or additional information about the company. So I picked up the phone and called funeral homes to find out more information, but found out that most do not send out funeral notifications by email.

I think the email I received is counterfeit. This concerns me because I receive a large number of emails and would like to be able to identify future counterfeit emails with ease. Do you have any tips when it comes to spotting fake emails?

 

Dear reader: Family and friends are the center of life for most people. Scammers are using this care toward others to run funeral email scams in order to steal personal information from computers. Once the link is clicked, it sends you to a foreign domain, where the scammers download malware onto your computer, gaining access to information on your computer.

From the email that you sent me, it's easy for good citizens to become victims. We see email tactics from scammers that disguise the email as a legitimate company and can use a real business' colors, logo and even email address. It's best to confirm with the funeral home or family and friends before clicking on links or even opening the email. As usual, watch for scammers changing up this con. They may hijack a different funeral home's name and/or change their message.

By doing research on the company you uncovered some red flags. Check out the business with BBB before doing business. Before giving any company your personal or financial information, review the business on the BBB website.

Here are some tips to keep you from becoming a victim:

* Be wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. As always, do not click on links or open the files in unfamiliar emails.

* Beware of pop-ups. Some pop-ups are designed to look like they've originated from your computer. If you see a pop-up that warns of a problem that needs to be fixed with an extreme level of urgency, it may be a scam.

* Watch for poor grammar and spelling. Scam emails often are riddled with typos.

* Ignore calls for immediate action. Scam emails try to get you to act before you think by creating a sense of urgency. Don't fall for it.

-- Blair Looney is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 1601 H St., Suite 101, Bakersfield, CA 93301 or info@cencal.bbb.org.

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