Techno Terrors – Financial Dangers on the Internet

Unfortunately, the internet and dishonest people seem to go together like milk and cookies, but this combination will leave a bad taste in your mouth. In recent years a new phenomenon in identity theft attempts has sprung up online and many people are foolishly falling victim to it.

Spoof E-mail

If you’re a user of Ebay or PayPal, it’s likely that you’ve seen an email like this:

Urgent Message from Ebay
Due to recent account takeovers and unauthorized listings, Ebay account security is randomly selecting accounts for verification. We will require you to verify your account information. At this time, your account has not been cancelled. If, however, you do not respond to this message by verifying your information within 48 hours, your account will be suspended and then cancelled as fraudulent. Please click on the following link to verify your information…

The message will look just like the email messaged you do get from Ebay. If you follow the link, you’ll be taken to a web site that is nearly indistinguishable from Ebay’s. A web form that looks completely legitimate will ask you to enter your name, address, user name, password, and credit card information, all the same information that you probably provided when you signed up for Ebay in the first place. But you are NOT on Ebay.

If you answer the questions and provide the information requested, you are putting your financial well being into the hands of a criminal. Messages like this are commonly called “spoof” emails because they perfectly spoof the HTML code and design used by Ebay, PayPal, and a number of other services. Even the customers of large banks like Washington Mutual and Bank of America have fallen victim to these scams.

Both Ebay and PayPal have a fraud prevention department that investigates these false messages, but in reality there is little that can be done. The sources have proven to be almost untraceable at this time. If you get one of these messages it’s a good idea to report it to the company. If you keep getting them, just delete them. Do not, under any circumstances, provide information. No legitimate company will ask for this type of information via email, something almost all of them point out in there user agreements and documentation. Yet people are duped by these messages on a daily basis. Don’t be a victim.

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