As you probably know, responding to a fraudulent phishing email is an easy way to fall victim to a hacker and have your important online account(s) compromised.
The latest recurring phishing scheme to start making the rounds again is targeting AT&T customers.
Although the wording of the fraudulent emails vary a bit, they all warn you that if you don’t click the link in the email and “update your mailbox” your AT&T email account will be closed.
Here’s an example of what you need to be on the lookout for:
Dear At&t Member
Your Mail version is outdated, Failure to Upgrade to the newest Mailbox. Failure to upgrade will result to a permanent closure account. Follow our link below to upgrade.
Click To Upgrade (link redacted)
Thanks for choosing us,
701 First Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94089
There are several dead giveaways that this email is fraudulent:
1 – You are addressed as “Dear At&t member” instead of by your name.
2 – Note that the two “T”s are lower case, and they shouldn’t be.
3 – The text of the message is written using extremely poor English and incorrect punctuation. No legitimate email from a major company would contain so many obvious errors.
4 – The threat to close your account if you fail to upgrade is unrealistic.
Instead of closing your account, they would simply prompt you to complete the upgrade the next time you log in to your account.
5 – They say “Thanks for choosing us,” but don’t include your name after the comma.
The reason they don’t include your name is because they don’t know what is (this is a boilerplate email they blast out to everyone on their SPAM email mailing list).
As you can see, this email is obviously fake (i.e. it wasn’t sent by AT&T).
If you were to click the link provided in the email and follow through to the end, three things would likely happen:
1 – You’ll enter your login credentials into a fake login form. That means you’ll be handing your login info to the scammer on a virtual silver platter.
2 – Your email address will get placed on an “Active Emails” SPAM list. Once it’s on that list you’ll start receiving a LOT more SPAM emails.
3 – The fake login page will likely download malware onto your computer or Android device.
In other words, clicking that link and entering your login info would end up causing you all kinds of grief!
If you receive an email like this (from ANY company), don’t open it.
Instead, visit the company’s website directly via a known-good URL and log into your account from there. If anything needs to be updated you’ll be asked to do so after you have logged in.
If you have already received one of these emails I recommend that you do the following:
1 – If the website offers it (and most do these days), enable Two-Factor Authentication on your account.
2 – Change your password.
3 – If you responded to the email using a Windows PC, run the scans mentioned in this post to track down and remove any malware that might have been downloaded to the machine from the malicious web page.
If you were using an Android device install a good antivirus app (I use and recommend AVG for Android).
That’s all there is to it. Best of luck, and stay safe!