A new email preying on parents’ fears that a sex offender might be living next door is the latest scam to prompt a warning from consumer advocates.
The email’s subject line reads “Alert: There is a Child-Predator Living Near You!” and it claims to be a notification specific to the recipient’s ZIP code, according to the Better Business Bureau.
In an interesting twist, though, clicking on the email’s Web link for more information reroutes you through several websites before landing on the Kids Live Safe site.
Kids Live Safe is a legitimate Web service that sells localized reports on registered sex offenders.
“But this spam isn’t actually affiliated with Kids Live Safe,” the BBB warns. “Sending users to that website appears to be a way to lend credibility and distract from the actual spam. Clicking on the (email link) is enough to infect your machine with malware, even if you ultimately end up at a legitimate site.”
Meanwhile, the malware will attempt to search your computer for stored information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card numbers.
The BBB offers the following tips to spot an email scam:
- Check out the “From” field. Email address can be masked, but scammers don’t always bother. Be wary of email addresses that don’t match the brand used in the email message.
- Watch for typos, awkward phrasing and bad grammar, which often are a giveaway that it’s spam.
- Hover over URLs to reveal their true designation. Hyperlinked text may say one thing, while the link goes somewhere else. Scammers can set up fake websites or hack into third-party websites to host malware.
- Don’t fall for emails that claim to have personalized information about you if you never signed up for the alerts.
Also, registered sex offenders’ addresses can be searched for by location at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s online sex offender registry at www.tbi.tn.gov.