|Update -- 1/19/2012: A new wave of fake BBB emails is using a different strategy to scam recipients into downloading a virus. In this new wave, emails have a subject line reading "BBB SBQ Form," followed by a series of numbers. Recipients are asked to click on a link to update their information with Better Business Bureau. The link supposedly leads to a form on BBB.org, but it really goes to a third party website that downloads a virus on to your computer.|
– An email scam using the Better Business Bureau’s name and logo continues to proliferate across North America, and even to some overseas addresses. Most of the emails carry the famous BBB torch logo and come with the subject line “Complaint from your customers.” The emails have a link or an attachment containing malicious phishing malware that steals information, often with devastating results.
Larry Andrus is a member of the board of directors of BBB Western Michigan and also the CEO of Trivalent Group, Inc., a BBB Accredited Business that helps its clients manage, access, protect, and store their data. One of his firm’s clients opened the affected attachment, which launched malware that quickly found the accounting office’s computers, accessed bank numbers and passwords, and nearly completed a fund transfer from the company’s account.
“We had to completely wipe the computers in order to contain the damage to our client,” said Dawn Simpson, Trivalent’s vice president of marketing and business development.
Because of experiences such as this one, BBB has updated its advice and recommends the following to anyone who receives the email:
• Do not open any attachments
• Do not click on any links
• Delete the email from your inbox, and then delete it again from your trash or recycling folder
• Run a full system scan using reputable virus software
Previously, BBB had recommended running a full system scan only if the recipient had clicked on the link or opened the attachment. But due to the virulent nature of the virus, the new recommendation is for everyone who receives it to do the scan. In offices or homes that are networked, all computers should be scanned.
Chris Garver, Chief Information Officer at the Council of Better Business Bureaus, recommends that all domain owners set up a sender policy framework (SPF) and set their spam filter to use it. “Using the SPF standard helps fight spam and phishing attacks by allowing your email servers to verify whether an email is legitimate…or not,” he says.
Microsoft offers a simple, four-step process for setting up an SPF: www.microsoft.com/mscorp/safety/content/technologies/senderid/wizard/
If you receive an email saying your business has a complaint filed against it with BBB, there are several things you can do to authenticate it:
• Look for typos, grammatical errors, etc. in the text that could indicate it originated overseas.
• Check to see who it says it is from. Complaints go out from the local BBBs, not from the headquarters office.
• Hover your mouse over the link to see if its destination is really a bbb.org address.
• Copy and paste the link into Notepad (not Word). Notepad does not support html, so if the link is a fake bbb.org address, the real link will show up.
• If you still are not sure, go to www.bbb.org to find your local BBB, and send them a new email to ask if you have a complaint (do not Reply to the email you received, or forward it to them). They have been swamped with requests, so you may not hear back immediately.
CBBB is working with federal law enforcement agencies to identify the perpetrator of this fraud, and is also looking into other measures it can take to help prevent future phishing scams from spreading.