It’s our natural tendency to react to bad news. There is just something inside of us that causes us to immediately react rather than stop and think about the news that we are receiving. Unfortunately, hackers are aware of this and try to capitalize on this by sending emails that pretend to have important information, but then infect your computer.
The scam usually goes like this: you receive an email summoning you to appear in court. The email looks official, but it doesn’t say where you have to go and fails to give a court date. You’re then prompted to open an attachment for further details.
Your first reaction is to think of why you may have to appear. You might think that perhaps you ran a red light. You think that maybe it’s a mistake and that you have to go straighten it out. You are worried that you will be arrested for not appearing. You will likely be very tempted to open that attachment. But whatever you do, resist the urge.
The attachment does not contain a court date. If you open the attachment you will be releasing malware into your computer. In fact, courts do not summon people by email or text messaging, and will generally summon you directly.
Another variation includes information about being summoned for jury duty, or for having missed jury duty. Again, courts will send a jury summons in the mail. While it may be tempting to open the attachment, do not open it.
The Better Business Bureau offers these tips:
Make a phone call. If you’re not sure whether or not you need to appear in court, call the court system or attorney’s office to check. “Search for the phone number on the web; don’t call a number in the email,” says the BBB.
Look for inconsistencies. Watch out for different law firm names and different forms of the same scam.
Don’t give in to requests to take immediate action. Fraudsters will attempt to get you to take action before you can think clearly by creating a sense of urgency.
For more information, visit the BBB Scam Stopper.