SOUTHFIELD — The Better Business Bureau of Eastern Michgan warned against a new twist on a phishing email scam that attempts to use the BBB’s trusted name to get private information from small businesses and consumers.

The campaign that started last week was the second biggest phishing scam in the country on Wednesday, according to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Spam Data Mine.

In one example, a plumbing company in Monroe, La., got an email last week saying they’d had a complaint filed against them, and took it seriously — since the company is a BBB Accredited Business and the owner serves on the board of directors of BBB of Northeast Louisiana. But the email was a fake, a phishing scam that downloaded viruses on two of the small business’s computers, which had to be wiped clean in order to get rid of the malware infection. Fortunately for the plumbing company, the virus hadn’t had a chance to steal any banking information.

The phishing emails – the fifth wave since Thanksgiving that uses the BBB’s name – uses BBB’s name and logo in an attempt to look like a notice of a newly filed complaint. The latest round includes a ZIP attachment, but that has not always been the case. Whether by an attachment or a link, the phishing emails attempt to trick the recipient into clicking and opening the “complaint,” which downloads malware onto their computer. The malware is designed to infect the computer and look for information such as bank account numbers and passwords in order to steal money from the recipients’ accounts.

If you receive an email that looks like it is about a BBB complaint:
* Do NOT click on any links or attachments.
* Read the email carefully for signs that it may be fake (for example, misspellings, grammar, generic greetings such as “Dear member” instead of a name, etc.).
* Be wary of any urgent instructions to take specified action such as “Click on the link or your account will be closed.”
* Hover your mouse over links without clicking to see if the address is truly from
* Delete the email from your computer completely (be sure to empty your “trash can” or “recycling bin,” as well).
* Run anti-virus software updates frequently and do a full system scan.
* If you are not certain whether the complaint is legitimate, contact your local BBB (
* Forward the email to so that our security team can track the perpetrators. If you receive a “bounce” message, there is no need to resubmit.

BBB also recommends that all businesses take steps to secure their data and the information they’ve collected on their customers. BBB’s “Data Security – Made Simpler” is available free-of-charge at

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