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Scam alert series

How a funeral notification alert can wreak havoc on your computer

Created date

March 28th, 2014
scam alert logo
scam alert logo

There’s a new scam out there that is particularly heartless. Playing on the natural grief and confusion people experience upon learning of a friend’s passing, scammers are sending out bogus emails with the words “funeral notification” in the subject line. The email, which appears to have come from a legitimate funeral home, offers condolences and a link to click for more information about the “celebration of your friend’s life service.” That’s where they get you because clicking the link doesn’t take you to the funeral home website. Instead, it sends you to a foreign domain where malware attacks your computer and can wreak havoc on your life.  

Malware is short for malicious software and it’s bad news. Malware carries a virus to your computer, causing it to malfunction. It can also access the personal information stored on your computer without your consent. Once that information is in the hands of scammers, they can steal your identity, send spam using your name and email address, and commit fraud. 

What should you do if a funeral notification email arrives in your inbox? The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) suggests you hit delete and whatever you do, don’t click on any link in the email. Write down the name of the funeral home and call them directly if you have any questions.  

The FTC has a list of steps you can take to keep your information and your computer safe and secure:

• Keep your security software updated.

• Don’t click on any links or open any attachments in emails unless you know who sent it and what it is.

• Download and install software only from websites you know and trust.

• Make sure your browser security setting is high enough to detect unauthorized downloads.

• Use a pop-up blocker and don’t click on any links within pop-ups.

• Resist buying software in response to unexpected pop-up messages or emails, especially ads that claim to have scanned your computer and detected malware. That’s a tactic scammers use to spread malware.

• Back up your data regularly.

The FTC works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, go online to or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).