Federal Trade Commission sees spike in funeral home scams

12:13 AM, Feb 18, 2014   |    comments
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(CBS News)-- The Federal Trade Commission is seeing a spike in a new scam that preys on people who've lost loved ones.

Watch out for email condolences from legitimate funeral homes.  The federal Trade Commission says scammers are using the names of law abiding businesses on bogus messages.

"What the scammers do is they send thousands- possibly millions- of emails to people and hope to catch some that are actually experiencing a situation with a friend or relative where they're concerned about their health," explained Nat Wood, Assistant Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission.

If you open that fake "funeral notification" viruses and spyware could get installed on your computer.

"They could get tax information, social security numbers, and credit card information...Really anything you have on your computer that is valuable to them," warned Wood.

A Texas funeral home is being used in some of the emails. The company osted an urgent warning on its website saying, "A fake funeral notice appearing to come from Eubank Funeral Home is circulating. It is not from Eubank Funeral Home."

CBS News correspondent Susan McGinnis Received an email with Eubank's name on it. She didn't open it.

"Scammers are always trying to stay one step ahead. They've always got new come-on's," said Wood. "No matter how compelling the message is, don't click on links and unsolicited emails."

If you do open one of these emails and your computer is compromised, officials recommend you download virus security software immediately.

Another way to verify if a notification is real, is to contact the funeral home by phone or call a family member to verify the information.

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