Reports are coming from around the country of people receiving phony emailed court summons from courts in various major cities such as New York, Houston, St. Louis, Washington DC and others in which the person receiving the email is prompted to click on an attachment to obtain further details. This scam, like many, is a phishing attempt to get people to click on a link or download an attachment that will result in the person receiving the email either providing personal information that can be used by the scammer for purposes of identity theft or will cause the person downloading the attachment to unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that will provide the identity theft with all of the information in the victim’s computer which would also be used to make the person a victim of identity theft. In either case, nothing good can come from downloading the attachment.
Here is a copy of one of the recent emails currently being circulated:
“Notice of appearance,
Hereby you are informed that you are due in the court of Houston
on the 19 of January, 2014 at 09:00 am for the hearing of your case.
You are kindly asked to prepare and bring the documents relating to the case to Court on the specified date.
Please, download the copy of the court notice attached herewith to read the details.
Note: The case may be heard by the judge in your absence if you do not come.”
Many people are comfortable ignoring these emails merely because they provide no precise information about a particular case or court. In addition, if they refer to a city or state where you have never been, you can also be pretty sure that it is a scam. However, as I constantly advise you, under no circumstances should you ever download an attachment or click on a link unless you are sure that it is legitimate. If you have any thought that the email might be legitimate, you should call the court for further information. In addition, it is important not to provide personal information online unless you are sure that it is legitimate and required. Finally, make sure that your security software is maintained up to date with the latest patches.