San Mateo police are advising Internet users to be on the lookout for a dangerous email in their inbox that is not only fraudulently reporting a child predator in the neighborhood, but also attempting to acquire the email recipients' sensitive information.
Police are instructing individuals who receive the scam email to not open the Web link embedded in the body of the email because it is a phishing email, meaning that it will install software, or malware, onto the recipient's computer.
The malware will attempt to search the recipients' computer for stored information such as usernames, passwords and credit card numbers.
According to police, the email claims to be announcing "Neighborhood Safety Info," and claims to be reaching out to the recipients "to inform you that a child-predator has just moved into your area."
The sender then instructs recipients to learn about the "registered child-predator" by clicking on the link, which actually contains malware, police said.
San Mateo police are reminding residents that while the public is able to view information on registered sex offenders required to register with local law enforcement under California's Megan's Law, residents do not receive information via email about registered sex-offenders moving into neighborhoods from either the San Mateo Police Department or other law enforcement agencies.
Internet users are advised to be wary of spam email and emails that come from unrecognized senders, or ask the recipient to confirm personal or financial information.
Police said the phishing emails are often not personalized to the recipient and may seem to be written in a manner designed to upset or even threaten the recipient.
To ensure that embedded links take you to a secure sites, police advise Internet users conducting online transactions to make sure that the website begins with https://, which indicates a secure site.
Additionally, police are advising Internet users to refrain from emailing personal or financial information, even to a known recipient.
Internet users are encouraged to use a firewall, anti-virus, and/or malware detector, such as a free one available via malwarebytes.org, police said.