How to recognize deceptive emails like the "Your Password Has Been Changed" scam email

Also Known As: Your Password Has Been Changed phishing email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of scam is "Your Password Has Been Changed"?

While investigating this email, we found that it is a scam email disguised as a letter from an email service provider. Scammers send this email to lure recipients into clicking a link and providing a password on the opened phishing website. This email should be ignored.

Your Password Has Been Changed email scam

"Your Password Has Been Changed" scam in detail

The email claims that the recipient's email account password has been changed (as the recipient supposedly requested). It provides two options: to keep the current password or visit a "supported page" for more information. Clicking the "Keep Current Password" button or the "support page" hyperlink takes the recipient to a phishing website.

The opened website imitates the design of a legitimate Bing, Google, Yahoo, or other email service provider's site accordingly to the recipient's email address. In all cases, visitors are requested to log into the email account using their password. Scammers could use the provided passwords to access email accounts (and even other accounts that use the same password).

Scammers could use accessed email accounts to read personal emails containing sensitive information, send spam, deliver malware, etc. They also could sell gained passwords (or hijacked email accounts) to third parties on the darknet or elsewhere. If they could manage to access more than just email accounts, they may do even more damage.

Threat Summary:
Name Your Password Has Been Changed Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Recipient's password has been changed
Disguise Letter from an email service provider
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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Similar emails in general

Scam emails instructing to provide personal information (or open links to phishing websites) are usually disguised as official/important/urgent letters from legitimate entities. Scammers behind them seek to lure recipients into providing credit card details, login credentials (e.g., usernames, passwords), and other sensitive information.

Examples of similar scam campaigns are "Your Email Has Been Restricted", "Please Confirm Your Account", and "Pending Messages On Our Remote Server". Email can be used not only to extract information but also to distribute malware.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Emails used to trick users into infecting computers with malware contain malicious links or attachments. Computers get infected via opened pages or downloaded files. The most commonly used files to distribute malware are MS Office, PDF or other documents, executables, ZIP, RAR (or other files of this kind), JavaScript, and ISO files.

Users infect computers by opening malicious files. Not all files can infect computers just by being opened (e.g., malicious MS Office documents do not inject malware until users enable macros commands).

How to avoid installation of malware?

Do not click links (or open attachments) in suspicious emails. Remember that irrelevant emails with links or files sent from unknown addresses will likely be used to deliver malware. Also, always use only official pages and stores as sources for downloading apps and files. Do not trust shady ads offering to download software.

Keep the operating system and other installed software updated. Update and activate the software using features provided by the official developers. Have antivirus software installed on your computer and run system scans regularly.

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 "Your Password Has Been Changed" email letter:

Subject: Password changed

Your password has been changed.

Keep Current Password

Your password has been changed, as you asked.

If you didn’t ask to change your password, we’re here to help keep your account secure. Visit our support page for more info.

Screenshot of the deceptive page requesting for email account password:

your password has been changed email scam phishing page

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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?

It could mean that your email address was exposed in a data breach or provided on a phishing page. Either way, scam emails are not personal - scammers send the same letter to all addresses they have in their database.

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

If you opened the website included in this email and entered your password, change all passwords as soon as possible. Especially if your password can be used to log into more than one account.

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

If you have opened an executable file (like .exe), your computer is probably infected. Other files (e.g., MS Office documents) often cannot infect computers until additional steps are performed (e.g., macros commands are enabled).

I have read the email but did not open the attachment, is my computer infected?

Emails can be safely opened even when they contain malicious links or files. It cannot cause any harm until malicious links or attachments are opened.

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

Combo Cleaner will scan your computer and remove malware. This application can detect almost all known malware. It is important to run a full system scan to eliminate high-end malware. Usually, malware of this kind hides deep in the system.

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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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