Catch Of The Week: Anti-Virus Invoice Scams

Los Alamos

You have probably heard of anti-virus programs like Norton, McAfee, etc. but did you know these can be used to compromise your home network?

No, not a backdoor in the software or anything like that, something a lot simpler.

Anti-virus themed phishing scams are currently “king of the hill” and one of the top ways your home network, and bank account, might be compromised.

How does this scam work? You might get a phone call, or an email, about an invoice for a popular anti-virus service.

Most common are the email scams.


If you got an email like the above pictured, what would you do? It’s threatening right off the bat, looks like you will be charged $350 for a service you may not even use. The goal here is to get you to panic. Most of these emails don’t include a phishing link, they just have a phone number to call. The sending address of the email might look like Norton at first, but usually it’s from a Gmail address, or another free email provider. The key here is not to panic, to stop and think before you freak out and interact with the email.

What will happen if you call the number, or click the link? The scammers will install remote access software on your machine and use this to steal your personal information. Once a scammer has remote access to your machine, they can get whatever they want. 

In recent news, an elderly woman in North Carolina was scammed out of $160,000 by a caller claiming to be from “Norton Tech Support”. He provided the woman with a link to pay online, and then called her back repeatedly claiming the payment hadn’t gone thru. When her husband called the bank to check into the issue, he discovered the scammers had stolen about $160,000 from their savings account. 

The full story can be read here:

Norton says it can’t help customers who fall for this scam, but instead gives advice on what to do: “Phone calls, like the one you received, can be phishing schemes that criminals use to try to get your information. Unfortunately, we are unable to assist with or investigate unwanted or suspicious phone calls such as these. We recommend that you never give any personal or bank information over the phone unless you can confirm who the caller is.”

If you get an invoice via email for anti-virus software, or anything else you are not expecting, it’s probably a scam. Do not click any links or call any numbers included in the email. If it’s a phone call just hang up.  Large companies like this do not call users for payment or send invoices for their services. They will not try to get you to install any kind of remote access software on your machine.

If you get a call or email and it feels off, go to the company’s website, and contact them directly either through their customer service number, or via email, and ask if there are any issues with your account. Never blindly click or call based on an unsolicited email! Be suspicious, or you risk getting scammed.

Editor’s note: Becky Rutherford works in information technology at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

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