Avoid infecting your device via fake Zillow "Updated Terms of Use" emails

Also Known As: "Updated Terms of Use" malspam
Damage level: Severe

What kind of email is "Updated Terms of Use"?

After inspecting the "Updated Terms of Use" email, we determined that it is malspam. This mail is presented as a notification from Zilliow – a tech real-estate marketplace company – informing the recipient of updates to the Terms of Use updates. This email aims to trick recipients into opening the malicious attachment.

It must be emphasized that all the claims made by this spam mail are false, and it is in no way associated with Zillow Group, Inc.

Updated Terms of Use malspam

"Updated Terms of Use" email virus overview

The spam email with the subject "Zilliow Rental Listing Verification" (may vary) states that a recent increase in fraudulent vacancy advertising has prompted Zillow to update their Terms of Use. This entails a more thorough verification process for listings.

As mentioned in the introduction, the goal of this fake email is to infect recipients' devices with malware. However, it also requests sensitive information, namely – proof of the property ownership or the property management agreement and the recipient's business license copy, which includes the company's name and business address. Hence, it could be that this spam mail operates as a phishing scam and does target the aforementioned data.

The malicious file – "08-11-2023.doc" (filename may vary) – attached to this email is designed to stealthily download/install malware. This Microsoft Word document infects devices by executing malicious macro commands, and this requires users to enable editing/content. When we opened this file, we found that it was full of gibberish; this could lure users into selecting the macro enabling option in an attempt to rectify the nonexistent display issue.

Spam campaigns are commonly used to spread trojans, ransomware, cryptocurrency miners, and other malware. The threats associated with high-risk infections include diminished system performance or failure, data loss, severe privacy issues, hardware damage, financial losses, and identity theft.

If you believe that your device has been infected – immediately perform a full system scan with an anti-virus and eliminate all detected threats. And if you've provided your private information to scammers – contact the appropriate authorities without delay.

Threat Summary:
Name "Updated Terms of Use" malspam
Threat Type Malspam, malicious spam mail, social engineering, trojan, password-stealing virus, banking malware, spyware.
Fake Claim Terms of Use were updated due to an increase in fraudulent vacancy advertising.
Disguise Zilliow
Attachment(s) 08-11-2023.doc (filename may vary)
Detection Names Avast (Other:Malware-gen [Trj]), Combo Cleaner (Exploit.RTF-ObfsObjDat.Gen), ESET-NOD32 (A Variant Of DOC/Abnormal.B), Kaspersky (HEUR:Exploit.MSOffice.Generic), Microsoft (Trojan:Script/Wacatac.B!ml), Full List Of Detections (VirusTotal)
Symptoms Trojans are designed to stealthily infiltrate the victim's computer and remain silent, and thus no particular symptoms are clearly visible on an infected machine.
Distribution methods Infected email attachments, malicious online advertisements, social engineering, software 'cracks'.
Damage Stolen passwords and banking information, identity theft, the victim's computer added to a botnet.
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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Malspam campaign examples

We have examined thousands of spam emails; "Requested Documents", "Your E-mail Will Be Closed", "Order Trial", and "Hydro Group Purchase Order" are merely some examples of ones used to spread malicious software. Malspam proliferates malware through virulent attachments and links.

However, spam is also used to promote various scams, e.g., phishing, sextortion, callback, refund, tech support, lottery, inheritance, etc. These emails can be variously disguised, including as messages from legitimate companies, service providers, institutions, organizations, authorities, and other entities.

How do spam campaigns infect computers?

Spam emails/messages can include malicious files as attachments or download links. These files can be executables (.exe, .run, etc.), archives (RAR, ZIP, etc.), documents (Microsoft Office, Microsoft OneNote, PDF, etc.), JavaScript, and so on.

Infectious files start downloading/installing malware upon being opened. However, some formats may need additional actions to begin system infection processes. For example, Microsoft Office documents (like the file attached to "Updated Terms of Use") require users to enable macro commands (i.e., editing/content).

How to avoid installation of malware?

It is essential to treat incoming emails, PMs/DMs, SMSes, and other messages with caution. We advise against opening attachments or links found in suspect mail, as they can be virulent. We recommend using Microsoft Office versions released after 2010 since they have the "Protected View" mode that prevents automatic macro execution.

It must be mentioned that malware is not proliferated exclusively via spam mail. Therefore, we also advise being vigilant when browsing since fake and malicious online content typically appears legitimate and harmless.

Furthermore, all downloads must be performed from official and verified channels. Another recommendation is to activate and update programs by using genuine functions/tools, as illegal activation tools ("cracks") and third-party updaters can contain malware.

We must stress the importance of having a reputable anti-virus installed and kept updated. Security software must be used to run regular system scans and to remove threats and issues. 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 "Updated Terms of Use" email letter:

Subject: Zilliow Rental Listing Verification

Due to a recent increase in fraudulent vacancy advertising, we have updated our Terms of Use and implemented a more thorough verification process to ensure legitimacy in our listings.  Until the verification process has been completed, the advertising will not be enabled.

In order to verify your listings, please provide us with a copy of your business license displaying your company name and business address, as listed in our software, as well as proof of ownership or a property management agreement for the properties being listed.

To review our updated Terms, click on the Help Menu button and view the pages in our User Guide.


For additional information and faster resolution, please view our Knowledge Base at hxxps://help.zillowrentalmanager.com.

To add additional comments, please reply to this email.

Screenshot of the malicious attachment distributed via "Updated Terms of Use" spam campaign ("08-11-2023.doc"):

Malicious attachment distributed through Updated Terms of Use spam campaign (08-11-2023.doc)

Instant automatic malware removal: Manual threat removal might be a lengthy and complicated process that requires advanced IT 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?

Spam emails are not personal. This mail is distributed in massive operations – therefore, thousands of users receive identical messages.

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

If you've provided your log-in credentials – change the passwords of all possibly exposed accounts and inform their official support. And if you've disclosed other private data (e.g., ID card details, passport scans/photos, credit card numbers, etc.) – immediately contact the corresponding authorities.

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

Devices are infected when malicious attachments/links are opened; merely reading an email will not trigger these processes.

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

Whether your device was compromised might depend on the opened file's format. If it was an executable (.exe, .run, etc.) – most likely, yes. However, you might have avoided an infection if it was a document (.doc, .xls, .one, .pdf, etc.). These formats may need extra actions to jumpstart infection chains (e.g., enabling macro commands, clicking embedded files/links, etc.).

Will Combo Cleaner remove malware infections present in email attachments?

Yes, Combo Cleaner is capable of detecting and eliminating most of the known malware infections. It must be mentioned that running a full system scan is essential since sophisticated malicious programs usually hide deep within systems.

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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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