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By Contributed photo
BY BLAIR LOONEY Contributing columnist
Editor's note: Action Line is a weekly column from the Better Business Bureau answering consumers' questions and concerns about money and business issues.
Dear Action Line,
I just received this email today. Is this another scam? I am sending you the email just as I received it. I have not opened the PDF.
SUBJECT: Case File Report 022EX91
FROM: FBI Headquarters
DATE: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 12:28 am
A report has been filed against you by your neighbours concerning your recent activities, which have been prompted us to file a police report to the FBI state department in your area to take up this case.
A copy of the report has been attached in a PDF readable file, which you can read and response to this report within the next 24 hours. Failure to respond to this report will result in immediate action after 24 hours of this email sent to you.
We hope you do understand the reason for this after reading the report.
935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 205354-0001
You are right to be cautious. Yes it a scam. This email has many red flags. Here are a few:
* The FBI would not file a report with the local police department.
* The way "neighbours" is spelled.
* FBI is not a state department.
* The phone number in the email is one digit off of the actual FBI phone number.
* If there really was a neighbor that reported your recent activities, you would receive a visit from law enforcement, not an email.
* The email contains an attachment that you must open.
According to the FBI, criminals are invading countless homes and offices across the nation every day -- not by breaking down windows and doors, but by breaking into laptops, personal computers and wireless devices via hacks and bits of malicious code.
The collective impact is staggering. Billions of dollars are lost every year repairing systems hit by such attacks. Some take down vital systems, disrupting and sometimes disabling the work of hospitals, banks, and 911 services around the country.
Who is behind such attacks? It runs the gamut -- from computer geeks looking for bragging rights to businesses trying to gain an upper hand in the marketplace by hacking competitor websites, from rings of criminals wanting to steal your personal information and sell it on black markets to spies and terrorists looking to rob our nation of vital information or launch cyber strikes.
Some things that you can do to protect yourself are to keep your firewall turned on and update virus protection regularly. Install or update antispyware. Keep your operating system up to date. Above all, be careful what you download.
The attachment on this email was left unopened because of the suspicious nature. Is it really worth risking your computer to find out what is inside?
We have seen many types of the emails and faxes recently. Scammers are constantly coming up with new ways to get money from unsuspecting consumers.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.