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Scam Alert Phony refund

THE SCAM: Energy Department refund

HOW IT WORKS: With most experts saying energy prices will be higher this winter than a year ago, the promise of a refund from the U.S. Department of Energy might seem welcome. But it's a scam in disguise: An e-mail notice tells the recipient that he is eligible for a refund from the agency, although there's no additional information as to why. The recipient is told to click on a link to get the refund. Officials believe the link will take the victim to a page that will ask for personal data or download a virus that can look for sensitive information on the victim's computer.

WHAT'S AT STAKE: Your identity and financial information

HOW TO BEAT IT: The Department of Energy does not use e-mail to give refunds or collect money. That means this notice is from a con artist who's trying to use the enticement of free money to get some of yours. Don't respond, hit delete.

Contact Bee staff writer Ben van der Meer at bvandermeer@modbee.com or 578-2331.

For past Scam Alerts, go to www.modbee.com/business/scam.

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