RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Check your email carefully! New messages look like they're from legitimate agencies, but con artists are using them as a ruse to gain access and do damage to your computer.
Experts have been giving the same advice for years: before you open an email, check the sender to make sure it's from a legit address. With these new scams, though, that traditional advice simply won't cut it.
@IRS.gov and @BBB.org are seemingly legitimate email address endings.
In fact, actual emails from employees at the government agency and Better Business Bureau have those exact letters following the "@" symbol. But the fake emails, which BBB spokesman Tom Gallagher said have been invading inboxes nationwide, could cause serious damage. They're not asking for money but by clicking on links inside the message, you're giving someone else access to your computer and making it vulnerable to viruses.
Danea Rhodes, who uses her computer daily couldn't believe the news.
"Actually I'm pretty shocked because usually when I've worked with computers they always tell you what not to open," she told us. "Usually they say if you can see those domain names it's usually a safe website or a safe email address to come from."
Gallagher said with better technology creating more advanced and thus believable scams, you need to do more than simply examine the sender's address. In fact, the only advice to follow is simply don't trust anyone you don't know directly.
"I think the crooks are better," he explained. "They're smarter. They do a better job at being a crook. It just proves we have to be even more careful."
Contact with most agencies will be in a more formal manner.
"We just simply don't do it that way," Gallagher said of the Better Business Bureau.
If there's any question, call before clicking. You'll also want to find that customer service number independently, as a phony number could be listed in the email.