Computer Crime Research Center


Phishing: PayPal compromised

Date: April 12, 2006
By: Marcelene Edwards

A PayPal e-mail scam bounced around inboxes again last weekend asking people to confirm the purchase of a set of computer speakers.

It might seem like someone is spending money without your permission, but don’t worry. No one has gotten control of your online bank account commonly used to pay for eBay purchases – as long as you don’t click on any of the links in the message.

Delete this and any message that asks for personal and financial information. No legitimate business will ask for that in an e-mail, said Kristin Alexander, a spokeswoman with the Washington Office of the Attorney General.

PayPal and other e-commerce companies are regular targets of these scams, called “phishing.”

Scammers create e-mails that look a lot like one that would be sent by a legitimate business, such as an online retailer or bank. They all ask you to click on a Web site that will confirm your identity with a few questions. They are “phishing” for your personal information. The questions usually ask about bank accounts, passwords and credit card numbers.

The most recent PayPal scam starts out with the company’s logo, making it look official. Someone has spent $379.12 on speakers that will be shipped to Brownsville, Pa. The e-mail asks the recipient to click on what looks like a PayPal link to cancel the transaction if it has been made in error.

But that link doesn’t go to a legitimate company Web site.

Marcelene Edwards: 253-597-8638


Five tips to fight e-mail scams

Use these tips to spot a suspicious phishing e-mail:

• Be skeptical of warnings that accounts will be shut down if you don’t reconfirm your billing address.

• Don’t click on the link – contact the company directly using a legitimate telephone number or Web site.

• Look at the “address bar” at the top of the browser; it is often a different domain name than the company being represented.

If you think you’ve already disclosed personal information:

• Carefully check credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges each month.

• Contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus and ask that a “fraud alert” be placed on your file and that no new credit be granted without your approval.
Original article

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