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How to spot fake emails like "Password Expired" scam email

Also Known As: Password Expired phishing email
Damage level: Medium

What is "Password Expired" email scam?

We examined this email and found that it is designed to steal personal information from recipients. Emails of this type are called phishing emails. Scammers use them to obtain sensitive information, such as credit card details, login credentials, or other info, by disguising themselves as legitimate entities or reputable people.

Password Expired email scam

More about the "Password Expired" email scam"?

Scammers behind this phishing campaign pretending to be an email service provider. They claim that the email account password has expired the recipient will be logged out after 24 hours from the specified date. However, they also claim that the recipient can continue using the old password.

In order for the recipient to supposedly be able to use the old password, he or she must click the "Keep Current Password" button/hyperlink and follow the steps provided on the opened page. While we examined this letter, we learned that the phishing page was down. It may be replaced with another site or fixed in the future.

Scammers most likely use this scam email to trick recipients into providing login credentials (email address and password). Typically, stolen credentials are used to hijack online accounts. Then those accounts are used for further malicious activities (e.g., to steal identities, obtain sensitive information, make fraudulent transactions or purchases, etc.).

Threat Summary:
Name Password Expired Email Scam
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Email account password has expired
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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Phishing emails in general

As a rule, phishing emails are disguised as official/important/urgent or other kinds of letters from legitimate companies, organizations, or other entities. Most scammers include links to deceptive/fake pages in their emails. They succeed when unsuspecting recipients enter their personal information on the opened sites.

Examples of similar phishing campaigns are "Account Termination Request Email Scam", "HR (Human Resources) Email Scam", and "AMERICAN GLOBAL TRADE Email Scam". Another way to misuse email for malicious activities is to trick recipients into infecting their computers.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

When an email letter is used to proliferate malware, it contains a malicious attachment (file) or a website link. Threat actors behind such emails aim to trick recipients into downloading and opening a malicious file (e.g., MS Office or PDF document, archive file, JavaScript file, executable file, or ISO file).

Not all files infect computers right after opening them. For example, malicious MS Office documents cannot inject malware until users enable macros commands (enable editing/content). Archive files (like ZIP, RAR) cannot infect computers unless users execute their contents, etc.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Do not click links or open files received from unknown/suspicious email addresses. Always examine emails before clicking or opening anything in them, especially when emails are irrelevant. Download software from official websites and stores. Do not use P2P networks, third-party downloaders, questionable pages, free file hosting sites, etc., to download software or files.

Keep the operating system and installed programs updated (achieve it using tools provided by official developers). 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 "Password Expired" scam email:

Subject: Expired ******** Notice

******** Server - Password Expired

The password to your mailbox ******** has expired.
System will log you out and generate a new password exactly at 24
hours from 21 Oct 2022
                        
You can continue using your current password. Click below.

Keep Current Password

Email is generated by ******** Email Server for ********

Another example of a spam email claiming that recipient's password has expired:

Your password has expired - email scam (2022-11-22)

Text presented within:

Subject: ******** Password Notification


Your password has expired

Dear ******** ,

Your password will expire in 24 hrs

Use the below button to keep your current password

Keep the password of ********

NB: Failure to update your password immediately will lead to account suspension and loss of important data.

Email Server
********  Support

Screenshot of the phishing site promoted using this email:

Phishing site promoted using Your password has expired email scam (2022-11-22)

Screenshot of yet another password expiration-themed spam email promoting a phishing site:

Password expired email scam (2022-11-22)

Text presented within:

Subject: Your password to ******** account.
    
PASSWORD EXPIRED
Dear  ********, your password to your email account ******** will expire after 24hours from now.
Please note that you are to use your same email password to validate your email account by Clicking below
(Retain Password) and your password with the email account will be retained and validated on our  server.
   
Retainpassword
Note failure validate your email account  with us in the next 12 hours you may be experiencing difficulties in
sending and receiving email.

Thanks,
******** Administrator  © 2022 Password retention

Screenshot of the promoted phishing site:

Phishing site promoted via Password expired email scam (2022-11-22)

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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 letter is not personal. There is a high chance that many other people received it too. Scammers send the same letter to all addresses obtained after a data breach or in different ways.

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

If you have opened a phishing website received from scammers and entered your password on it, change all passwords as soon as possible. Especially if there is more than one account that can be accessed with the same password.

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

Executable files infect computers right after users open them. However, other files do not infect computers until users perform additional steps (e.g., enable macros commands in malicious MS Office documents).

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

No, it is safe to open emails without clicking malicious links or attachments presented in them.

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

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and remove almost all known malware. Computers infected with high-end malware must be scanned using a full system scan. Otherwise, antivirus software may not detect malware that hides deep in the operating 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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