Do not trust the PASSWORD EXPIRATION NOTICE scam

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Distribution: Moderate
Damage level: Medium

PASSWORD EXPIRATION NOTICE email scam removal guide

What is PASSWORD EXPIRATION NOTICE email scam?

In most cases scammers behind email phishing scams attempt to trick recipients into providing personal information such as bank account numbers, credit card details, passwords and other sensitive details that could be misused for malicious purposes. In this particular case scammers attempt to deceive recipients into entering their Office 365 login credentials on a fake Microsoft website.

PASSWORD EXPIRATION NOTICE email spam campaign

Scammers behind this phishing email seek to trick recipients into believing that the password for their Microsoft Office is going to expire soon and they need to update the password as soon as possible if they want to avoid any login problems and/or loss of access to the account. The provided website link is designed to open a fake Microsoft Office account login page where visitors are asked to enter their email address, current password, new password and then confirm the new password. No information should be entered on websites like this one or any other fake, unofficial, or untrustworthy in any other way websites. By entering the asked details on this fake page users would simply provide their MS Office login credentials to some scammers/cyber criminals. They could misuse stolen accounts to access files, photos, and other personal files, data. Depending on accessed files data cyber criminals could misuse it to make fraudulent purchases, transactions, spread phishing scams like this one further, send malspam, steal identities, etc. Also, they could sell stolen MS Office accounts and/or data to third parties/other cyber criminals. It is worthwhile to mention that by trusting such emails users who use the same login credentials for multiple accounts may lose access to those accounts as well.

Threat Summary:
Name PASSWORD EXPIRATION NOTICE Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Microsoft Office account password has expired/will expire soon
Disguise Email from Microsoft Support
Symptoms Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, stolen accounts, identity theft.
Distribution methods Deceptive emails, rogue online pop-up ads, search engine poisoning techniques, misspelled domains.
Damage Loss of sensitive private information, monetary loss, identity theft.
Malware Removal (Windows)

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There are various email scams out there, some examples are "Spotify Email Scam", "POLÍCIA SEGURANÇA PÚBLICA Email Scam", "Your Email Is Out Of Date Email Scam". To summarize, scammers behind such scams attempt to trick users into providing some sensitive information that could be used for malicious purposes/to generate revenue in one or another way. Typically, users who trust such scams become victims of identity theft, suffer monetary loss, lose access to various accounts, etc. It is worthwhile to mention that emails can be used to distribute malware (e.g. ransomware, Trojans) as well. The way how it can be achieved is described in the next paragraph.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Operating systems get infected with malicious software through emails (malspam campaigns) when unsuspecting recipients into open/execute a malicious attachments or files downloaded via malicious websites. Some examples of files that cyber criminals send via email (attach to their emails) are malicious PDF, Microsoft Office documents, archive files (like RAR, ZIP), executable files (like .exe) and JavaScript files. It is important to mention that malicious MS Office documents infect operating systems only when users give them a permission to enable editing/content (macros commands). However, it applies only to malicious documents that are opened with MS Office 2010 or newer version. Older versions do not have the "Protected View" feature and infect systems automatically.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Links, attachments (file) in received irrelevant emails should not be opened, especially they are sent from unknown, suspicious addresses. Software, files should be downloaded only from trustworthy, official pages and through direct download links. None of the other channels like Peer-to-Peer networks, third party downloaders, unofficial pages, etc., should be used for that. Third party installers should not be used as tools to install any software as well. Installed software must to be activated and/or updated only with implemented functions (and/or tools) that are provided by its official developers. Third party, unofficial tools should never be used neither to activate or update any installed software. Also, it is not legal to use tools of this kind to activate any licensed software. Additionally, it is recommended to scan computers for threats regularly and do it with an up-to-date, reputable antivirus or anti-spyware security suite. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Malwarebytes for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Text presented in the PASSWORD EXPIRATION NOTICE email letter:

Subject: Important- Password Expiration Notice

PASSWORD EXPIRATION NOTICE

Your password for account "********" expires today. You can retain and update your current password or change to a new one.

Update the password as soon as possible using the pcrisk secure portal below to prevent login problems and loss of access.

https://*****.com/*****-passwordreset
© 2020​  - HelpDesk

Screenshot of the fake MS Office login website:

password expiration notice email scam fake Microsoft website

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Malwarebytes is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
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How to remove malware manually?

Manual malware removal is a complicated task - usually it is best to allow antivirus or anti-malware programs to do this automatically. To remove this malware we recommend using Malwarebytes for Windows. If you wish to remove malware manually, the first step is to identify the name of the malware that you are trying to remove. Here is an example of a suspicious program running on a user's computer:

malicious process running on user's computer sample

If you checked the list of programs running on your computer, for example, using task manager, and identified a program that looks suspicious, you should continue with these steps:

manual malware removal step 1Download a program called Autoruns. This program shows auto-start applications, Registry, and file system locations:

screenshot of autoruns application

manual malware removal step 2Restart your computer into Safe Mode:

Windows XP and Windows 7 users: Start your computer in Safe Mode. Click Start, click Shut Down, click Restart, click OK. During your computer start process, press the F8 key on your keyboard multiple times until you see the Windows Advanced Option menu, and then select Safe Mode with Networking from the list.

Safe Mode with Networking

Video showing how to start Windows 7 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 8 users: Start Windows 8 is Safe Mode with Networking - Go to Windows 8 Start Screen, type Advanced, in the search results select Settings. Click Advanced startup options, in the opened "General PC Settings" window, select Advanced startup. Click the "Restart now" button. Your computer will now restart into the "Advanced Startup options menu". Click the "Troubleshoot" button, and then click the "Advanced options" button. In the advanced option screen, click "Startup settings". Click the "Restart" button. Your PC will restart into the Startup Settings screen. Press F5 to boot in Safe Mode with Networking.

Windows 8 Safe Mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 8 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

Windows 10 users: Click the Windows logo and select the Power icon. In the opened menu click "Restart" while holding "Shift" button on your keyboard. In the "choose an option" window click on the "Troubleshoot", next select "Advanced options". In the advanced options menu select "Startup Settings" and click on the "Restart" button. In the following window you should click the "F5" button on your keyboard. This will restart your operating system in safe mode with networking.

windows 10 safe mode with networking

Video showing how to start Windows 10 in "Safe Mode with Networking":

 

manual malware removal step 3Extract the downloaded archive and run the Autoruns.exe file.

extract autoruns.zip and run autoruns.exe

manual malware removal step 4In the Autoruns application, click "Options" at the top and uncheck "Hide Empty Locations" and "Hide Windows Entries" options. After this procedure, click the "Refresh" icon.

Click 'Options' at the top and uncheck 'Hide Empty Locations' and 'Hide Windows Entries' options

manual malware removal step 5Check the list provided by the Autoruns application and locate the malware file that you want to eliminate.

You should write down its full path and name. Note that some malware hides process names under legitimate Windows process names. At this stage, it is very important to avoid removing system files. After you locate the suspicious program you wish to remove, right click your mouse over its name and choose "Delete".

locate the malware file you want to remove

After removing the malware through the Autoruns application (this ensures that the malware will not run automatically on the next system startup), you should search for the malware name on your computer. Be sure to enable hidden files and folders before proceeding. If you find the filename of the malware, be sure to remove it.

searching for malware file on your computer

Reboot your computer in normal mode. Following these steps should remove any malware from your computer. Note that manual threat removal requires advanced computer skills. If you do not have these skills, leave malware removal to antivirus and anti-malware programs. These steps might not work with advanced malware infections. As always it is best to prevent infection than try to remove malware later. To keep your computer safe, install the latest operating system updates and use antivirus software.

To be sure your computer is free of malware infections, we recommend scanning it with Malwarebytes for Windows.

About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

Tomas Meskauskas - expert security researcher, professional malware analyst.

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of over 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an author and editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

PCrisk security portal is brought by a company RCS LT. Joined forces of security researchers help educate computer users about the latest online security threats. More information about the company RCS LT.

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Malware activity

Global malware activity level today:

Medium threat activity

Increased attack rate of infections detected within the last 24 hours.

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