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How to spot fake emails like "Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection"

Also Known As: Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection phishing email
Damage level: Medium

What is "Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection" email scam?

While examining this email, we learned that it is sent by scammers who aim to trick recipients into calling a fake support number. Scammers behind it claim that recipients have been charged a specified amount of money for the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection subscription. They disguised this email as a letter from Microsoft.

Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection email scam

More about the "Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection" email scam

Scammers behind this email claim that recipients have been charged $650.99 for the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection subscription. They also claim that they tried to contact recipients via the registered email ID before charging them but could not reach them.

This email also contains a fake invoice number, a customer support number, and a description of the "purchased" products. Scammers aim to trick recipients into calling that number to get a "refund". Once contacted, they may ask to provide sensitive information (e.g., credit card details), pay some fee, or even allow them to remotely access a computer.

Threat Summary:
Name Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipient has been charged for Windows Defender subscription
Fake Support Phone Numbers +1(817) 440-4295, +1(888) 819-2174
Disguise Letter from Microsoft
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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Similar scams in general

Emails of this type usually are disguised as official/important/urgent letters from legitimate companies. Scammers aim to trick recipients into calling the provided number or providing information on a deceptive website. They try to extract credit card details, passwords, other sensitive information, or money.

Examples of similar scams are "Norton Order Confirmation Email Scam", "Blocked (Important) Incoming Messages Email Scam", and "Request To Terminate/Disable Your Email Scam". Emails can also be used to deliver malware.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Threat actors who use email to distribute malware send malicious attachments or links. Recipients infect computers by downloading and executing malicious files. Most threat actors use malicious MS Office or PDF documents, ISO files, archives (e.g., ZIP, RAR), JavaScript files, and executables to distribute malware.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Carefully examine emails containing files or links. Irrelevant emails received from unknown addresses are likely to contain malicious attachments or links. Download software from legitimate (official) pages and stores. Do not use P2P networks, shady pages, third-party downloaders, torrent sites, etc., to download files or programs.

Update and activate the installed software and operating system with tools provided by the official developers and keep it up to date. Use reputable antivirus software for computer protection. 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 "Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection" email letter:

Microsoft

Dear Customer

Thanks for using Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection.

We thank you for completion of 1 Year.

We tried to contact you on your registered email ID but couldn't get through.

Date:- 02.09.2022
Amount Paid: 650.99 USD

Customer Support Agent on +1(888) 819-2174
Invoice Number: RUY0-6HJEY-5IUK

Description
Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection
Firewall & Network Protection
Amount $650.99
Total $659.99

If you have any queries about this invoice, simply reach out to our Support Executive on +1(888) 819-2174 (Toll Free) for help.

You have 24 Hours to refund this charge from the Date of transaction without being charges.

Our Support Team will gladly assist you with any questions or request.

Regards, Microsoft Support Team

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Quick menu:

Types of malicious emails:

Phishing email icon Phishing 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.

Email-virus icon 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.

Sextortion email icon Sextortion Emails

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:

Example of an email spam

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?

This email was probably sent even to people who do not use any Microsoft products. Scammers send the same email to all addresses they obtained after a data breach, via phishing pages or in similar ways.

I have provided my personal information when tricked by this email, what should I do?

Change all passwords immediately if you have provided your username, password (or passwords), or other login credentials. If you have provided other information (e.g., credit card details, ID card information, social security number), contact the corresponding authorities as soon as possible.

I have downloaded and opened a malicious file attached to an email, is my computer infected?

It depends on the type of file. For instance, executable files can infect computers right after they are opened. However, Microsoft Office documents cannot cause any harm unless macros commands are enabled.

I have read the email but didn't open the attachment, is my computer infected?

No, emails cannot infect computers. Recipients infect computers via links or attachments in emails (not by opening emails).

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections that were present in email attachment?

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and remove almost all known malware. High-end malware can be designed to hide deep in the system. Therefore, users must scan the operating system fully to remove malware of this kind.

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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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