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How to spot scam emails like "Annual Email Version Upgrade"

Also Known As: Annual Email Version Upgrade phishing email
Damage level: Medium

What kind of scam is "Annual Email Version Upgrade"?

We have inspected this email and found that it is sent by scammers who aim to lure recipients into providing personal information. Scammers behind this email use a phishing page to extract information. They disguised the email as a letter from an email service provider.

Annual Email Version Upgrade scam email

More about the "Annual Email Version Upgrade" scam email

This email urges recipients to upgrade their email accounts. It claims that email accounts require an annual upgrade to prevent incoming emails from being blocked. The email instructs recipients to upgrade their accounts via the provided website.

That website is a fake login page asking to enter account login credentials (email address and password). It is used to steal email accounts. It is important to mention that scammers can try to use the obtained information to access and steal other accounts. Thus, providing login information on phishing pages can lead to the loss of multiple accounts.

Threat Summary:
Name Annual Email Version Upgrade Email Scam 
Threat Type Phishing, Scam, Social Engineering, Fraud
Fake Claim Incoming emails will be blocked if email accounts are not upgraded
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)

To eliminate possible malware infections, scan your computer with legitimate antivirus software. Our security researchers recommend using Combo Cleaner.
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Similar scam emails in general

Typically, phishing emails are disguised as important/urgent/official letters from legitimate companies, organizations, or other entities. Scammers behind them ask recipients to provide personal directly via email or deceptive websites. Typically, they aim to obtain credit card details, login credentials, or other sensitive information.

Examples of phishing emails are "Your Organization Needs More Information To Keep Your Account Secure", "E-Mail Storage Bandwidth Limit", and "YоuTubе Suppоrt Shared An Item". Emails sent by crooks can contain links or files designed to infect computers with malware.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Malicious attachments or links received from cybercriminals cannot infect computers if users leave them unopened. Computers become infected after opening malicious links or files extracted from archives, enabling macros commands (editing/content) in infected MS Word documents, executing JavaScript files, executables, etc.

How to avoid installation of malware?

Be careful with irrelevant emails from unknown addresses. Clicking links (or opening attachments) included in such emails can lead to computer infections. Download software from official pages and platforms. Keep the operating system and installed software updated. Update and activate the software with tools provided by the official developer. Never use third-party tools for that.

Do not trust advertisements on shady pages or allow such sites to deliver notifications. 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 "Annual Email Version Upgrade" email letter:

Subject: UPGRADE TO NEW VERSION

 
Dear ********,

Your email account currently needs the annual email version upgrade.
NB: Your account will soon be blocked from sending message if not Upgraded to the New Email version .  
Please click on the below Server Link  to complete the new email version upgrade

GET VERSION 5.0.3

This service is free of charge
********  I for © 2020 All rights reserved

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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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 is not personal. Scammers sent the same letter to all recipients.

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

Change all passwords immediately if you opened a deceptive page and provided your email (or other accounts) password. In other cases (if you provided credit card details, ID card information, etc.), contact the corresponding authorities.

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

If the file you opened is an executable file, your computer may already be infected. Other malicious files cannot infect computers unless users take additional steps (e.g., enable macros commands in infected MS Office documents).

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

No, it is safe to open emails. Computers cannot be infected via emails without opening links or attachments.

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 usually hides deep in the operating system. Therefore, it is important to run a full system scan to remove high-end malware.

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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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