CONSUMER ALERT — 'Phony utility bill' email scam heating up in Washington state

By Peninsula Daily News staff

FROM THE STATE attorney general's office:

SEATTLE — A new email phishing scam making the rounds nationwide has hit Washington state, and this one is disguised as a utility bill.

Washington consumers have reported receiving emails that appear to be statements from a legitimate utility company, notifying the recipient that their bill is “due upon receipt” or “past due.”

The email message provides a link to “view your most recent bill,” but clicking on the link will instead prompt the download of malware, which will infect your computer.

Malware is software used to disrupt computer operation and gather sensitive information.

According to the Attorney General's consumer experts, these fraudulent messages are just another variation of the common phishing scams — emails that look like they originate from a legitimate company, but are actually designed to obtain personal information or direct you to a website that downloads malware.

While phishing scams come in many different forms, the defense is always the same: Delete these emails and do not click on any links in them or open any attachments.

The Attorney General's Office offers the following tips to avoid being scammed:

Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who emails or calls you.

Hover over the reply address or links in the message (without clicking) to see if it includes your utility providers' company and domain name.

If you are concerned about the notice or the status of your account, contact your utility company directly for assistance, using a number you know to be legitimate.

For additional internet safety tips, advice and information visit the Attorney General's website at http://www.atg.wa.gov/InternetSafety.aspx.

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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Last modified: February 26. 2014 11:22PM
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