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You can often spot a phishing email scam by the language used. To get across the urgency of a fake outstanding tax debt or a speeding fine, fraudsters usually try to scare their victims into action.

But this is not the case in a new phishing email scam. Fraudsters are turning on the charm and using 'friendly' language to convince victims into downloading an attachment by pretending they've fallen for a scam themselves.

To make sure you don't fall for a scam like this, we're taking you through how to spot it.

The scam

Fraudsters are sending phishing emails describing themselves as a 'law-abiding citizen'. The email claims that the sender has accidentally received your personal details.

It then goes on to explain that they believe your details are available to scammers and that they're contacting you to try to help. There's a document attached to the email that supposedly contains your personal details which you're encouraged to click on.

The attachment downloads malicious malware onto your computer. The malware tries to get sensitive data from your computer such as your banking details and passwords. Fraudsters then use this to steal money from the victim.

Over a short period, Action Fraud has received 226 reports from email users who have got this message.

How to protect yourself

It can be easy to fall for this scam – especially, as the email suggests your personal details are already in the hands of fraudsters.

To help you spot a scam like this, remember the following tips. 

 Never click on any links or open attachments in an email you receive out of the blue.

Check the email header to identify who has sent the email, as fraudsters can spoof an email address to make it look like someone you know.

 Look out for any poor spelling or grammar as these are tell-tale signs of a phishing email.

Install up-to-date anti-virus protection on your computer. You can get this software for free from such companies as AVG, AVAST and Panda Security.

Don't enable macros in downloads, as this will allow malware to install onto your device.

Regularly backup your important files to an external hard drive or memory stick. Just make sure that you don't leave the device connected to your computer as any malware infection could spread to that as well.

And finally, remember to trust your instincts – if something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

Think you've already fallen for this scam? Contact your bank if you think your personal details are compromised.   

You can report the scam to Action Fraud by using their online reporting tool.

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