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BBB warning: Child predator email scam preys on concerned parents


Mon, Jan 26th 2015 11:15 am

Fake email warnings about a child predator being in the neighborhood are the latest methods scammers are using to steal personal information, warns the Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York. These "community safety" alerts are designed to look official and come right to your inbox.

How the scam works

One receives an email alert with the subject line "Pedophile alert" or "Alert: There is a Child-Predator Living Near You!" The email typically states, "You are receiving this email because there may be a risk of sex offender activity in your area," or "A child-predator just moved into your neighborhood."

Included in the message is a link to click that says it will take one to the information. Clicking on the link takes the user to a series of redirected sites to land on the website for Kids Live Safe, a service that sells localized reports on sex offenders. But this spam isn't actually affiliated with Kids Live Safe.

Once one clicks on the links, they will infect a computer with malware that will attempt to search for stored information such as usernames, passwords and credit card numbers.

BBB advises people to never click on links in unsolicited emails. For more information about the URL destination, use your browser to search for information before you click.

How to spot an email scam

•Check out the "from" field. Scammers can mask email addresses, making them appear to come from legitimate sources. Look out for email addresses that don't match the organization name used in the message.

•Typos and grammar. Organization logos and email formats can easily be copied, but bad grammar and poor writing typically indicate a message is a scam.

•Check URLs. Hover over a URL to determine its real destination. Usually, the hyperlink text will say one thing and the link will point somewhere else.

•Personalized emails. Scams often pretend to be personalized, but it is actually blast emails. If the receiver never signed up for custom email alerts, the person should not be receiving them.

•Be careful with "unsubscribe" options. It's better to just delete this type of solicitation. If you choose unsubscribe, you could open yourself up for more unwanted spam email. 

To get information on registered sex offenders in your area, check out the FBI's directory of state databases or the New York State Sex Offender Registry.

For more scam alerts, tips and other "information you can trust," visit bbb.org, "Like" it on Facebook or follow it on Twitter. 

Note: KidsLiveSafe.com is a BBB accredited business.

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