Are email tricksters targeting tax returns?

I decided I had to blog about a new phishing scheme I found in my email today. (It may not be new to some.)  It is circulating during the high time of tax season and I wonder if it is targeting people who are getting tax returns.

The email sender’s name, “transfers“, didn’t strike me as suspicious. It should have, but I was quickly scanning for personal emails and my eyes darted between From and Subject in my email preview. The subject line caught my attention and drew me in, particularly since I knew that the acronym ACH relates to money. ACH stands for Automated clearinghouse and is the network of computers that handles United States  electronic depository transactions–financial deposits and funds transfers.

Can you see why I went on to read the message?

The sender, “transfers“, used the subject line: “Your ACH transaction”. The email didn’t have an attachment and was somewhat convincing–no misspelled words, bears NACHA–The Electronic Payment Association logo, and included a convenient archived report of the canceled transaction.

Links are always suspect, but it wasn’t until I saw the name of the “convenient archived report” that I squinted my eyes in suspicion.  It looked like this (I changed the real numbers):

“report_1234567.pdf.exe. Self-extracting archive. Adobe PDF.”

The Adobe PDF file made it seem harmless; many use Adobe PDF files each day. 

Yet, I am grateful that I was taught that an “.exe” file means that the file is executable, which is the technical term for saying that the file will do whatever it is designed to do on your computer! Whatever! You give the file permission to serve its’ purpose when you click on it and agree to the other prompts such as “open” and “save”.  That is scary when you don’t know what the file will do! If it is meant for wrongdoing, as happens in phishing emails, that can mean financial woes or stolen identity when the file installs itself on a computer and begins to run its program.

I searched for  NACHA‘s website, but NOT by using any of the links in the email! 

Emails similar to mine were the subject of an April 22nd notice under NACHA news.  NACHA says, ‘we don’t …touch the ACH transactions…‘ and goes on to explain that emails supposedly from them are phishing schemes. They ask people to send fraudulent emails to: abuse@nacha.org.

NACHA is a legitimate organization that manages the ACH network. 

Updated antivirus software is critical if anyone makes financial transactions online.

Ruthless minds are stepping up their game to get people’s hard-earned dollars.

And I am trying to spread word of the need for caution.

Most of us work too hard for our money!

Caio! Be Safe Online!

~Kerstin

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