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How to recognize phishing emails like the HSBC E-Payment Advice?

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Damage level: Medium

What is HSBC E-Payment Advice email scam?

Scammers behind phishing emails try to trick recipients into sharing personal information with them. Most of them ask for usernames and passwords, social security numbers, credit card details, personal identification numbers (PINs), or other sensitive information. This email is used to extract login credentials for email accounts.

HSBC E-Payment Advice email scam email spam campaign

HSBC E-Payment Advice phishing email in detail

This phishing email is disguised as a letter from the HSBC bank regarding electronic payment advice (EPA) issued at the request of the customer. It has the "E-Payment Advice.html" file (its name may be different in other email variants) attached to it.

The file attached to this email asks visitors to enter the email address and password to view its contents. The entered information is sent to cybercriminals. Stolen login credentials could be misused to send this scam to people in the contacts list, deliver malware, access all emails, and for other malicious purposes.

It is important not to use the same login credentials for multiple accounts - scammers might try to use stolen information to access other accounts, which could lead to other problems like identity theft, monetary loss, etc.

Threat Summary:
Name HSBC E-Payment Advice Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Electronic payment advice has been issued at the request of a customer
Disguise Letter from the HSBC bank
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.
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Phishing emails in general

Phishing emails look like letters from legitimate entities (for example, they contain logos of existing companies). They are used to extract personal information. More examples of similar emails are "Storage Server Failure" and "DHL Express Shipment Confirmation". It is important to know that emails can be malicious.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Emails used to deliver malicious software (for example, ransomware, Trojans) contain website links or attachments. Recipients infect computers by downloading and opening malicious Microsoft Office or PDF documents, JavaScript files, archive files (like ZIP, RAR), executable files like EXE, or other files.

Malicious documents opened with Microsoft Office 2010 and later do not infect computers unless users enable macros commands (editing/content). Although, documents opened with older MS Office versions infect computers without asking any permission.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Irrelevant emails received from unknown addresses and containing website links or attachments should be ignored. Programs, files should be downloaded only from legitimate, reliable sources such as official websites and direct links. Installed software has to be updated or activated with tools provided by its official developer.

The operating system should have a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software installed on it. It is advisable to scan the operating system for threats regularly. If you've already opened malicious attachments, we recommend running a scan with Combo Cleaner Antivirus for Windows to automatically eliminate infiltrated malware.

Appearance of the HSBC E-Payment Advice email scam (GIF):

hsbc e-payment advice email scam appearance in gif

Text presented in the HSBC E-Payment Advice email scam:

Subject: E- Payment Advice - Advice Ref:[GLV715572436] / Priority payment / Customer Ref:[181462Y018LD]

Dear ********,

The attached e-payment advice is issued at the request of our customer. The advice is for your reference only.

Yours faithfully,
Global Payments and Cash Management
HSBC

*******************************************************************

This is an auto-generated email, please DO NOT REPLY. Any replies to this
email will be disregarded.

*******************************************************************

Security tips

1. Install virus detection software and personal firewall on your computer. This software needs to be updated regularly to ensure you have the latest protection.
2. To prevent viruses or other unwanted problems, do not open attachments from unknown or non-trustworthy sources.
3. If you discover any unusual activity, please contact the remitter of this payment as soon as possible.

*******************************************************************

This e-mail is confidential. It may also be legally privileged.
If you are not the addressee you may not copy, forward, disclose
or use any part of it. If you have received this message in error,
please delete it and all copies from your system and notify the
sender immediately by return e-mail.

Internet communications cannot be guaranteed to be timely,
secure, error or virus-free. The sender does not accept liability
for any errors or omissions.
*******************************************************************

"SAVE PAPER - THINK BEFORE YOU PRINT!"Dear Sir/Madam,

The attached payment advice is issued at the request of our customer. The advice is for your reference only.

Yours faithfully,
Global Payments and Cash Management
HSBC

Website used to trick visitors into providing email account login credentials:

hsbc e-payment advice email scam deceptive 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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Quick menu:

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.

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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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