2/15/12 - This was posted by the FTC regarding e-mailed traffic ticket violation notices. Please remember that Illinois does NOT e-mail violations.
Getting a traffic ticket isn’t anyone’s favorite thing. Even worse? A fake ticket – a spam email that tricks you into downloading spyware onto your computer.
That’s just what happened to some Seattle government employees who received deceptive emails from overseas scammers that were designed to look as if they were from the city’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Never mind that Seattle doesn’t have its own DMV. The email asked the recipients to complete a linked form. Once the link was clicked, a malware program installed itself and infected the consumer’s computer:
Although this particular spam campaign is recent – the Seattle Police Department reported it January 19 and the emails apparently were sent from a domain registered in Ukraine earlier in the month – it’s not a new kind of scam. Last August, a number of police departments across the country warned consumers about spam campaigns involving alleged “Uniform Traffic Tickets” emailed from state police departments. If a recipient opened the email and clicked on the attached “ticket,” a malicious program installed itself on the person’s computer. This scam borrows from others like it that take advantage of the public trust in communications sent from government entities.
How can you protect yourself – and your computer – from these spam campaigns? Read your emails carefully. For example, the Seattle version used a European date format: day/month/year. Another clue: municipalities, including Seattle, don’t email traffic tickets – they prefer to mail them. Finally, keep security software on your computer up to date. That way, if you inadvertently click on a link emailed to you that attempts to infect your computer, you’ll be better protected.
For more information on how to be on guard against this kind of fraud and secure your computer, visit the FTC’s website.
All consumers can forward spam emails to the Federal Trade Commission at email@example.com and to the Anti-Phishing Working Group at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also file a complaint about spam with the FTC, your state attorney general’s office, the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center, and the Better Business Bureau. Information about how to file a complaint is available at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/onguard/file-complaint.shtml.