What is the fake "Verify Microsoft Account" email?
"Verify Microsoft Account" refers to an email spam campaign. These emails are disguised as notifications from Microsoft Corporation, concerning a necessary Microsoft account verification.
It must be emphasized that these scam letters are in no way associated with the actual Microsoft Corporation. The purpose of said fake notifications is to extract users' Microsoft account log-in credentials (i.e. usernames and passwords) through a phishing website.
"Verify Microsoft Account" email scam overview
The scam emails are presented as final notifications concerning an upcoming block to inbound emails. The reason given by the fake letters is a supposedly skipped Microsoft account verification. Recipients are warned that if they fail to verify their accounts within the following hours - their accounts are likely to be deleted from Microsoft's databases.
The "Verify Now" button in the emails redirects to a phishing website, which is presented as the Microsoft account log-in page. Despite its legitimate appearance, the webpage is fake and its purpose is to record any information provided to it. This site targets users' Microsoft account log-in credentials and other information connected to it (e.g. emails, phone numbers, Skype usernames, etc.).
To summarize, trusting "Verify Microsoft Account" letters or other scam emails - can result in account theft, system infections, severe privacy issues, financial losses and even identity theft.
If attempts to log-in through the phishing website have already been made, it is strongly advised to change the passwords of any potentially compromised accounts. It is also recommended to contact the official support of such accounts.
|Name||Verify Microsoft Account Email Scam|
|Threat Type||Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud|
|Fake Claim||Scam emails notify recipients that they must verify their Microsoft accounts.|
|Symptoms||Unauthorized online purchases, changed online account passwords, identity theft, illegal access of the computer.|
|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)||
To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
Spam campaigns in general
"Emails Sync Failure", "Coinbase Email Scam", "Banco Montepio" and "eBay Email Scam" are some examples of other phishing spam campaigns. Deceptive/Scam emails are usually presented as "important", "urgent", and similar; they may be disguised as mail from legitimate companies, organizations, and other entities.
Aside from phishing, such emails are also used for other scams and malware (e.g. trojan, ransomware, etc.) proliferation. Due to the relative prevalence of spam mail, it is highly recommended to exercise caution with incoming emails and messages.
How do spam campaigns infect computers?
For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. In Microsoft Office versions released before 2010 - macros are executed the moment a document is opened.
Later versions have "Protected View" mode, which prevents automatic execution of macro commands. Instead, users are asked to enable them (i.e. to enable editing/content); hence, infection processes can only be jumpstarted by manually allowing macros.
How to avoid installation of malware?
To avoid malware spread through spam mail, it is advised against opening suspect and/or irrelevant emails - especially, any attachments or links present in them. Additionally, it is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010.
Other popular malicious software distribution methods include: untrustworthy download channels (e.g. unofficial and free file-hosting sites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal activation ("cracking") tools and fake updaters. Therefore, it is important to always use official/verified download sources, as well as activate and update programs with tools provided by legitimate developers.
To ensure device and user safety, it is crucial to have a dependable anti-virus installed and kept updated. This software has to be used to run regular system scans and to remove detected threats and issues. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.
Text presented in the fake "Verify Microsoft Account" email letter:
Subject: Account Update!
Dear Microsoft User
This is the last time we notified you that we will stop processing incoming emails in your account reasons are you failed to verify your Microsoft account which may lead to permanent delete of your account from our data-base in the next few hours.
Kindly take a minute to complete our email verification below
Important Notice- Account disconnection will take place today 12:00 Midnight if issue not resolved.
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
Screenshot of the page the "Verify Now" button in the scam emails redirects to:
Screenshot of the phishing site the previous page redirects to:
Another example of Microsoft account verification-themed spam email:
Text presented within:
Subject: Verify your Mail Account
Verify your email address
Kindly confirm your Microsoft account is active, we just need to make sure this email address is working properly.
If verification requires a passcode use your email current password.
Do not ignore this email. It's very important to verify your email address as requested, for better services.
The Microsoft account team
This is an e-mail message sent automatically by Microsoft Outlook while testing the settings for your account.
Instant automatic malware removal:
Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced computer skills. Combo Cleaner is a professional automatic malware removal tool that is recommended to get rid of malware. Download it by clicking the button below:
- What is Verify Microsoft Account spam?
- Types of malicious emails.
- How to spot a malicious email?
- What to do if you fell for an email scam?
Types of malicious emails:
Most commonly, cybercriminals use deceptive emails to trick Internet users into giving away their sensitive private information, for example, login information for various online services, email accounts, or online banking information.
Such attacks are called phishing. In a phishing attack, cybercriminals usually send an email message with some popular service logo (for example, Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix), create urgency (wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.), and place a link which they hope their potential victims will click on.
After clicking the link presented in such email message, victims are redirected to a fake website that looks identical or extremely similar to the original one. Victims are then asked to enter their password, credit card details, or some other information that gets stolen by cybercriminals.
Emails with Malicious Attachments
Another popular attack vector is email spam with malicious attachments that infect users' computers with malware. Malicious attachments usually carry trojans that are capable of stealing passwords, banking information, and other sensitive information.
In such attacks, cybercriminals' main goal is to trick their potential victims into opening an infected email attachment. To achieve this goal, email messages usually talk about recently received invoices, faxes, or voice messages.
If a potential victim falls for the lure and opens the attachment, their computers get infected, and cybercriminals can collect a lot of sensitive information.
While it's a more complicated method to steal personal information (spam filters and antivirus programs usually detect such attempts), if successful, cybercriminals can get a much wider array of data and can collect information for a long period of time.
This is a type of phishing. In this case, users receive an email claiming that a cybercriminal could access the webcam of the potential victim and has a video recording of one's masturbation.
To get rid of the video, victims are asked to pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). Nevertheless, all of these claims are false - users who receive such emails should ignore and delete them.
How to spot a malicious email?
While cyber criminals try to make their lure emails look trustworthy, here are some things that you should look for when trying to spot a phishing email:
- Check the sender's ("from") email address: Hover your mouse over the "from" address and check if it's legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, be sure to check if the email address is @microsoft.com and not something suspicious like @m1crosoft.com, @microsfot.com, @account-security-noreply.com, etc.
- Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is "Dear user", "Dear @youremail.com", "Dear valued customer", this should raise suspiciousness. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. Lack of this information could signal a phishing attempt.
- Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented in the email, if the link that appears seems suspicious, don't click it. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft and the link in the email shows that it will go to firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0... you shouldn't trust it. It's best not to click any links in the emails but to visit the company website that sent you the email in the first place.
- Don't blindly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and to view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, it's a good idea to scan it with an antivirus application. Infected email attachments are a common attack vector used by cybercriminals.
To minimise the risk of opening phishing and malicious emails we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
Example of a spam email:
What to do if you fell for an email scam?
- If you clicked on a link in a phishing email and entered your password - be sure to change your password as soon as possible. Usually, cybercriminals collect stolen credentials and then sell them to other groups that use them for malicious purposes. If you change your password in a timely manner, there's a chance that criminals won't have enough time to do any damage.
- If you entered your credit card information - contact your bank as soon as possible and explain the situation. There's a good chance that you will need to cancel your compromised credit card and get a new one.
- If you see any signs of identity theft - you should immediately contact the Federal Trade Commission. This institution will collect information about your situation and create a personal recovery plan.
- If you opened a malicious attachment - your computer is probably infected, you should scan it with a reputable antivirus application. For this purpose, we recommend using Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.
- Help other Internet users - report phishing emails to Anti-Phishing Working Group, FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, National Fraud Information Center and U.S. Department of Justice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Why did I receive this email?
Spam emails are not personal. These letters are distributed in mass-scale operations.
I have provided my personal information when tricked by this spam email, what should I do?
If you have disclosed log-in credentials - immediately change the passwords of all potentially compromised accounts and contact their official support. Likewise, contact the relevant authorities if you've provided other personal information (e.g., ID card details, credit card numbers, etc.).
I have read a spam email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?
Opening a spam email will not initiate any infection process. These chains are triggered when the attachments or links present in these letters are opened/clicked.
I have downloaded and opened a file attached to a spam email, is my computer infected?
Whether an infection occurred - depends on the attached file's format. Executable files cause infection once opened - almost infallibly. However, document formats (e.g., .doc, .pdf, etc.) might require additional user interaction (e.g., enabling macro commands) - to initiate malware download/installation.
Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?
Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating most of the known malicious software infections. It is noteworthy that sophisticated malware usually hides deep within systems. Therefore, running a full system scan is paramount.