How to spot phishing emails like "Authenticate Account" scam email

Also Known As: Authenticate Account phishing email
Damage level: Medium

What is "Authenticate Account" scam email?

Our team analyzed this email letter and learned that it was sent to obtain personal information from the recipient. It is disguised as a letter from an email service provider. It contains a website link designed to open a phishing page. This email must be ignored.

Authenticate Account scam email

More about the "Authenticate Account" scam email

The email states that the recipient has pending messages (some messages are pending on the server). It claims that those messages cannot be accessed without authenticating the mailbox. It instructs the recipient to authenticate the account via the provided website (by clicking the "AUTHENTICATE ACCOUNT HERE" button and following the instructions).

The website design of the page provided in this email depends on the recipient's email address. For example, if the recipient uses Bing Mail as the email service provider, the opened phishing page mimics the Microsoft Bing login page. In all cases, visitors are asked to provide their email account password.

Scammers can use stolen passwords to hijack email accounts, sell them to third parties, and use them to access other accounts. Providing passwords on phishing websites can lead to identity theft, monetary loss, problems related to online privacy, and other issues. It depends on the types of compromised accounts.

Threat Summary:
Name Authenticate Account Email Scam 
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Some messages are pending
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 scam emails in general

Scammers behind phishing emails pretend to be legitimate companies, organizations, or other entities. Their goal is to trick recipients into providing passwords, credit card details, or other sensitive information. Usually, phishing emails request to provide information directly via email or deceptive websites.

Examples of phishing emails are "Password Expired Email Scam", "Account Termination Request Email Scam", and "HR (Human Resources) Email Scam". It is important to mention that cybercriminals can misuse email for other malicious purposes, for example, to deliver malware.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Emails used to deliver malware contain malicious links or attachments. Recipients infect computers through those links or files. Typically, cybercriminals use MS Office, PDF documents, JavaScript files, executables, ISO files, or archives to distribute malware.

Different files infect computers in different ways. For example, malicious Microsoft Office documents cannot inject malware until macros commands are enabled.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Use official pages as sources for downloading software and files. It is not safe to use P2P networks, shady pages, free file hosting pages, third-party downloaders, etc., to download files and programs. Also, do not open attachments and links in suspicious emails (for example, irrelevant emails sent from unknown addresses).

Keep the operating system and installed software updated. Never use third-party tools to update or activate any software. 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 "Authenticate Account" email letter:

Subject: Mailbox Requesting Authentication

Dear Subscriber (**********)

You have some pending messages on your server.
Kindly AUTHENTICATE your ********** account below to access pending messages.
Activation expires after 12hours from 10/25/2022 11:41:46 a.m. after which your pending messages will be deleted.

Registry Team.

You may visit hxxps://www.**********/check-activity/ to see email activity
© 2022 .********** All rights reserved.

Screenshot of the fake login page mimicking the Bing website:

authenticate account email scam phishing website

Another example of an email from "Authenticate Account" spam campaign:

Email account authentication scam (2023-03-21)

Text presented within:



Email Administrator

Dear -

Your email account - encountered a server error and some of your incoming and outgoing messages were held due to system updates.

Re-authenticate your account to correct and eliminate the error immediately.


Email Administrator
This message is automatically generate

Screenshot of the promoted phishing site:

Phishing site promoted via email account authentication scam (2023-03-21)

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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 addressed to anyone in particular. Scammers sent it to all addresses they have. All recipients received the same letter.

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

If you opened the phishing website in this scam email and entered your password, then change all passwords as soon as possible. Especially if the stolen password can be used to access more than one account.

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

It depends on the file type. For example, executables infect computers after they are opened/executed. Archive files cannot damage computers until their contents are extracted and opened. Microsoft Office documents inject malware after enabling macros commands.

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

No, emails cannot infect computers. It is safe to open emails without opening their contents.

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

Yes, Combo Cleaner can detect and eliminate almost all known malware infections. It is important to know that high-end malware can be designed to hide deep in the system. Thus, it cannot be removed without running a full system scan.

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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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