How to recognize phishing emails like ICS (International Card Services)?

Also Known As: possible malware infections
Damage level: Medium

What is ICS (International Card Services) email scam?

Scammers behind phishing emails try to trick recipients into providing credit card details, usernames, passwords, social security numbers, or other personal information. This phishing email is likely to be used to extract credit card details and (or) online banking information.

ICS (International Card Services) email scam

This email is disguised as a letter from a company called International Card Services. Scammers attempt to trick recipients into believing that their bank account will be blocked because they have not performed a periodic customer verification.

Scammers claim that recipients can avoid having their bank account blocked by verifying their account via the provided website. At the time of the research, that website link was not working. Although, it may be fixed and used to trick recipients into providing online banking credentials, credit card details, or other sensitive information.

Threat Summary:
Name ICS (International Card Services) Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Bank account has been blocked
Disguise Letter from a Dutch company called ICS
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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Scammers use this email to trick recipients into providing information that could be used to make fraudulent transactions, steal identities, or for other malicious purposes. More examples of similar phishing emails are "HSBC E-Payment Advice", "DBS Bank", and "Banca Sella". Cybercriminals can use emails to deliver malware as well.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Emails that cybercriminals use to distribute malware contain malicious attachments or website links. Recipients infect computers by downloading and opening a malicious MS Office, PDF documents, executable files, JavaScript, or other files. Typically, files in emails of this type are presented as important, official documents.

Malicious documents opened with MS Office 2010 and newer versions ask for permission to enable macros commands (editing/content). They do not install malware unless users enable macros commands in them. Older MS Office versions do not have the "Protected View" mode. Thus, malicious documents opened with them infect computers automatically.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Irrelevant emails with website links or attachments in them should not be trusted, especially when they are sent from suspicious addresses. Programs (and files) should be downloaded only from legitimate, reliable sources such as official websites and via direct links.

Installed software has to be updated or activated using tools or functions that its official developers provide. The operating system should have a reputable antivirus or anti-spyware software installed on it. It is recommended to scan the system for malware on a regular basis.

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 ICS (International Card Services) email scam (GIF):

ics international card services email scam appearance

Text in this email (written in Dutch and English languages):

Subject: Uw huidige creditcard is geblokkeerd


Belangrijke informatie met betrekking tot uw bestelling bij Microsoft
Geachte heer/mevrouw,

Uw ICS-klantomgeving zal binnenkort worden opgeheven. U heeft de periodieke klantverificatie niet uitgevoerd. Dit betekent dat wij als creditcarduitgever, verplicht zijn om uw producten bij ons te blokkeren. Ook moeten wij u als consument permanent afwijzen.

Uw rekening is voorlopig geblokkeerd. Om permanente blokkade te voorkomen, kunt u met de onderstaande link uw rekening verifiëren. Na de verificatie kunt u weer normaal gebruikmaken van uw rekening.

Mijn omgeving

Wij wensen u alvast veel betaalgemak!

Met vriendelijke groet,

International Card Services BV

Uw Card wordt uitgegeven door International Card Services BV (ICS).

Let op! Ga voorzichtig om met uw persoonlijke gegevens. Medewerkers van ICS zullen nooit naar uw gebruikersnaam, wachtwoord en/of pincode vragen. Niet via e-mail, telefoon of op welke andere manier dan ook.

Dit bericht is verzonden door International Card Services BV, gevestigd aan de Wisselwerking 32 te (1112 XP) Diemen, ingeschreven in het Handelsregister Amsterdam onder nummer 33.200.596.

This message has been sent by International Card Services BV, which has its seat at Wisselwerking 32 (1112 XP) Diemen, the Netherlands, and is registered in the Commercial Register of Amsterdam under number 33.200.596.

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.

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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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