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Avoid having your email account stolen via Debt Settlement scam email

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

"Debt Settlement email scam" removal guide

What is the "Debt Settlement" scam email?

"Debt Settlement email scam" refers to a spam campaign - a large-scale operation during which thousands of deceptive emails are sent. The letters sent through this campaign - notify recipients of a paid debt. It must be emphasized that the information provided by these scam emails - is false. The spam campaign's aim is to promote a phishing website, which requests users to validate their email accounts by providing their log-in credentials (i.e., email addresses and passwords). Phishing sites operate by recording data entered into them. Therefore, by trusting the "Debt Settlement" letters, recipients can have their email accounts stolen.

Debt Settlement email spam campaign

The "Debt Settlement" scam emails (subject/title "Settlement letter"; may vary) informs recipients that the debt has been settled and the account was paid for by the debtor. The emails also state that the payment letter has been sent, as per the recipients' request. The "OPEN PAYMENT" button in these deceptive letters redirects to a phishing website. The page asks recipients to verify their email accounts by entering the log-in credentials. Should this information be provided to the site - it will be recorded and sent to the scammers behind the "Debt Settlement" emails, thereby allowing them to steal the corresponding mail accounts.

Emails are of particular interest to scammers and cyber criminals, as they are typically connected to other accounts, platforms, and services (e.g., registered through the mail). Hence, through stolen email accounts - those associated with them can be likewise hijacked. To elaborate on how this can be used, communication platforms (e.g., emails, social networking, social media, messengers, etc.) can be employed to proliferate malware by sharing malicious files or links. Alternatively, through these platforms, scammers can ask contacts/friends/followers for loans - under the guise of the real owner. Finance-related accounts (e.g., banking, online money transferring, e-commerce, digital wallets, etc.) can be used to make fraudulent transactions and/or online purchases. To summarize, by trusting the "Debt Settlement" scam letters, users can experience severe privacy issues, financial losses, and even identity theft. If attempts to log in through the phishing webpage have already been made - it is strongly advised to immediately change the passwords of potentially compromised accounts. It is also recommended to contact the official support of the endangered platforms.

Threat Summary:
Name Debt Settlement Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Scam emails claim a debt has been settled.
Related Domains detestorband[.]com
Detection Names (detestorband[.]com) CRDF (Malicious), Webroot (Malicious), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Serving IP Address (detestorband[.]com) 185.143.145.9
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)

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"cPanel email scam", "Monthly Email Validation", "Kaspersky email scam", and "Upgrade Account" are some examples of phishing spam campaigns. The information targeted by these deceptive letters - varies. Typically, scammers aim to obtain the usernames/passwords of various accounts and users' names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, banking accounts details, credit card numbers, etc. Spam emails are usually presented as "official", "urgent", "important", "priority", and similar. Aside from phishing and other scams, these letters are also used to spread malware (e.g., trojans, ransomware, cryptominers, etc.). Due to how widespread spam mail is, it is important to exercise caution with incoming emails.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Systems are infected via virulent files distributed through spam campaigns. The emails can contain download links of such files, and/or they can be attached to the letters. Infectious files can be in a variety of formats, e.g., Microsoft Office and PDF documents, archives, executables, JavaScript, etc. When the files are executed, run, or otherwise opened - the infection chain (i.e., malware download/installation) is jumpstarted. For example, Microsoft Office documents cause infections by executing malicious macro commands. This process begins the moment a document is opened - in Microsoft Office versions released before 2010. Later versions have "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic execution of macros. Instead, users are asked to enable editing/content (i.e., macro commands) and alerted of the potential risks.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Dubious and irrelevant emails must not be opened - especially any attachments or links present in them. It is recommended to use Microsoft Office versions released after 2010. Malware is also distributed via untrustworthy download channels (e.g., unofficial and free file-hosting websites, Peer-to-Peer sharing networks, etc.), illegal activation ("cracking") tools, and fake updates. Therefore, it is important to only perform downloads from official and verified sources. Additionally, all programs must be activated and updated with tools/functions provided by genuine developers. To ensure device and user safety, it is crucial to have a reputable anti-virus/anti-spyware suite installed and kept updated. Furthermore, this software has to be used to run regular system scans and remove detected/potential threats. 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 "Debt Settlement" scam email letter:

Subject: Settlement letter

 

Good Day ********

 

Please note this account has been paid up by the debtor.


OPEN PAYMENT

 

A paid up letter has been requested for ********.

 

PJB is the most trusted company in integrated power plant business with world class standard. Established in 1995, PJB has more than 20 percent market share in Indonesia. For further information visit : www.ptpjb.com.

 

This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual named. If you are not the named addressee you should not disseminate, distribute or copy this e-mail. Please notify the sender immediately by e-mail if you have received this e-mail by mistake and delete this e-mail from your system.

Screenshot of the phishing website promoted through the "Debt Settlement" spam campaign:

Debt Settlement email scam promoted phishing website

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:
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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 Combo Cleaner Antivirus 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 Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows.

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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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