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Phony utility bill email scam on the rise in Washington

An example of a utility bill scam email. - Courtesy image
An example of a utility bill scam email.
— image credit: Courtesy image

A new email phishing scam making the rounds nationwide has hit Washington state, and this one is disguised as a utility bill.

Washington consumers have reported receiving emails that appear to be statements from a legitimate utility company, notifying the recipient that their bill is “due upon receipt” or “past due.”

The email message provides a link to “view your most recent bill,” but clicking on the link will instead prompt the download of malware, which will infect your computer.

Malware is software used to disrupt computer operation and gather sensitive information.

According to the Attorney General’s consumer experts, these fraudulent messages are just another variation of the common phishing scams — emails that look like they originate from a legitimate company, but are actually designed to obtain personal information or direct you to a website that downloads malware.

While phishing scams come in many different forms, the defense is always the same: Delete these emails and do not click on any links in them or open any attachments.

The Attorney General’s Office offers the following tips to avoid being scammed:

• Never give out personal or financial information to anyone who emails or calls you.

• Hover over the reply address or links in the message (without clicking) to see if it includes your utility providers’ company and domain name.

• If you are concerned about the notice or the status of your account, contact your utility company directly for assistance, using a number you know to be legitimate.

For additional internet safety tips, advice and information visit the Attorney General's website at http://www.atg.wa.gov/InternetSafety.aspx.

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