🚨 If we have the time to read all the emails we receive carefully, we might realize that the email below is a scam. The issue is that these scams are designed so well that they quickly play on our fears, causing us to react without thinking.
This week we feature a scam that appears simple and clean, easily leading people to mistake it for something genuine. In fact, one of our members admitted that their heart sank when they first saw it.
As always, we took it upon ourselves to click on the link in the email and see where it led. That's where the major problem lies.
Let's take a closer look at this scam, learn how to identify it, and understand why we find it to be highly problematic.
🕵🏼 How to tell:
Yes, you've got it. The problem with these scams is that there is no glaring mistake that is easy to point out. However, there are a couple of things to remember:
- Scammers always send messages with a sense of urgency. Though this one doesn't specify a certain duration (e.g. "do X & Y in 24 hours!"), the email still wants you to take immediate action.
- The action they recommend requires you to click on a link within the email. In a real emergency situation, most legitimate companies will encourage you to log into your online account via a browser (Safari, Firefox, Chrome) or through their app and review your accounts from there.
- Lastly, specific to Google, they don't monitor viruses on your machine.
Now, let's see what we think is more dangerous in this situation. When we click the button in the email, it leads us to this page:
Not only was everything in red flashing on our screen, but this website was also accompanied by an audio recording that repeatedly says, "WE DETECTED A VIRUS ON YOUR COMPUTER. WE DETECTED A VIRUS ON YOUR COMPUTER. WE DETECTED..."
This technique, called "audio panic," is used to create a heightened sense of urgency and anxiety in the victim, making them more susceptible to the scammer's demands or instructions. The continuous and alarming sound aims to push the victim into taking immediate action without carefully thinking about the situation, potentially leading them to fall for the scam.
🔒 Ways to stay safe:
- Pause and Breathe: Take a moment to pause and try to stay as calm as possible. Remind yourself that scammers often use fear to manipulate their victims.
- Mute or Lower the Volume: If the sound is coming from your computer, consider muting or lowering the volume immediately. This can help reduce the anxiety caused by the repeated sound.
- Avoid Clicking Anything: Refrain from clicking on any links, buttons, or pop-ups that appear on your screen, as they may be part of the scam.
- Disconnect from the Internet: If the situation persists and you can't regain control of your computer, consider disconnecting from the internet or shutting down your computer. This action can prevent further damage and cut off the scammers' access.
🚨 If you click the link by accident
Don't panic! It's harder to think clearly when we're in a heightened state. In most cases, clicking the link isn't going to have an immediate impact on your computer. Damage occurs when we take the next steps they'd like us to take, like calling the number on the website or submitting our personal information.
If you accidentally open the link, you can:
- Close your browser (Safari/Chrome/Firefox), and
- Be prepared to get professional help or assistance to ensure your computer is secure.