No one wants to hear bad news about a friend, but if you get an email saying one of yours has passed away, do not open it.
Tomball resident Emily Orduna has seen plenty of email scams before; they ask for the same thing.
"They want money and they want it wired to them," Orduna said.
But the recent scam that hit her inbox this week hit a new low.
"It said something about, 'We offer our deepest condolences about your friend,' and my first thought was, I don't know anyone who passed away and I don't know why a funeral home would be emailing me about it," Orduna said.
The email is a fake notice and it contains a link that you must click to find out about the friend's final arraignments. But the link contains malware that infects computers and searches for something very specific.
"Identity, information, getting you to release confidential information," said Dan Parsons with the Houston Better Business Bureau.
Parsons says the scam is a success because preys on empathy and curiosity.
"Death and dying are bad things, so your curiosity, who is it, is it a relative, a friend, is it an enemy?" he said.
One big red flag, the funeral home in the email is not a local one, but experts say it's only a matter of time before that changes, so be on the look out.
To reduce your risk of downloading unwanted malware and spyware, the Federal Trade Commission suggests:
- Keep your security software updated.
- Don't click on any links or open any attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it is.
- Download and install software only from websites you know and trust.
- Make sure your browser security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads.
- Use a pop-up blocker and don't click on any links within pop-ups.
- Resist buying software in response to unexpected pop-up messages or emails, especially ads that claim to have scanned your computer and detected malware. That's a tactic scammers use to spread malware.
- Back up your data regularly.