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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 or 578-2331.

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