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BBB Tip of the Week: Phony FTC emails

Sun., March 24, 2013, midnight

Scammers are targeting small businesses with emails pretending to be from the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau. The latest wave of fake emails occurred earlier this month.

The latest phony FTC emails have the subject line “Notification of Consumer Complaint.” The email contains a link to the consumer complaint, a link to contact the FTC and an FTC phone number – all fake. The FTC doesn’t resolve individual complaints. Instead, they compile complaints to look for patterns of lawbreaking and trends affecting consumers.

The BBB does manage complaint resolution, so the bogus BBB emails can be a bit trickier. They look like they are real by using the BBB logo. They ask you to review a complaint either by following a link or opening an attachment. Some red flags include awkward wording, a link not ending in or an email not from your local BBB office.

The use of fake emails pretending to be from legitimate, trustworthy organizations to obtain personal and financial information is called phishing. What to do if you receive one of these phishing emails at your home or business:

• Forward the fake FTC emails to and the fake BBB emails to

• Delete the email from your inbox, your deleted messages folder and your junk mail folder.

• If you’ve opened the email, do not open any attachments or click on any links.

• Run your anti-virus software.

• Check your credit card statements and bank accounts regularly for unauthorized charges.

For more information about phishing, you can visit or contact the FTC by calling its toll-free helpline, 877-FTC-HELP (877-382-4357). For more information about consumer complaint resolution, please call the BBB at 509-455-4200 or visit

Erin T. Dodge, BBB editor

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