The Better Business Bureau is warning parents to be on the lookout for a new email scam disguised as a warning about child predators in their area.
According to the BBB, parents have reported receiving an email with the alarming subject line "Alert: There is a Child-Predator Living Near You!" The email goes on to say that, based on your ZIP code, a registered child sex offender has "just moved into your area."
Fortunately, the email's claims are untrue. But parents duped by the email's scare tactics may themselves become victimized by malicious software designed to steal sensitive financial and personal information from their computers.
How the Scam Works
The email provides a link for those concerned by the email's dire warnings to "learn more about this predator alert." And clicking the link provided does lead to a website for "Kids Live Safe," a service that provides reports on sex offenders.
But the emails aren't actually affiliated with "Kids Live Safe." Rather, the link seems to be way to make the scam look more legitimate. In addition to leading to the Kids Live Safe website, clicking on the link also may be enough to allow malware to infect your machine, the BBB warns. This malware will then search your computer for passwords, credit card numbers, and other information that could be used by scammers for identity theft.
How to Spot the Scam
The BBB recommends several ways that consumers can spot this scam and others like it before it's too late. These include:
To learn more about identity theft, email privacy, and online safety, check out FindLaw's section on Online Scams.