RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) --They're called e-cards: A quick and often creative way to wish you a Merry Christmas. But hackers have also figured out how to use e-cards to drop a lump of coal in your electronic stockings.
They are holiday greetings for the digital age -- the increasingly popular electronic holiday greeting cards.
When sent from a friend or a loved one, they offer Christmas cheer or a good laugh. But be careful.
Law enforcement officials warn that it's also an easy way for scammers to steal information off your computer or worse.
David Clementson is from the Virginia Attorney General's office.
"This could be different versions of malicious software being sent to you with a virus or a form of phishing with a ph," said Clementson.
A phishing scam would send you to a website and try to get you to enter personal information... that is then stolen.
Opening a virus could actually infect your computer and steal information.
"Worst case scenario, you have no idea that someone's commanding your computer and is able to access personal information, financial information."
Your best defense? If you're not expecting an e-greeting and you don't know who it's from then don't open that e-card.
Outside of making sure you have good virus protection on your computer, if you get an e-card, make sure it comes with an actual name and a real return address.
Otherwise, don't open it, don't reply to it... just delete it.