Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Latest PayPal Email Scam - Don't be Fooled, it looks Authentic!

The popularity of the Internet definitely has its pros and cons. The Internet has impacted our daily lives in so many ways. It allows us instant access to information, provides us with more channels to stay in touch with family and friends, makes it more convenient to shop and pay for goods without ever leaving our home, and even changed how some of us earn a living.

Of course every good thing has its downside. The Internet is also the perfect platform for scam artists to sharpen their skills. With easy access to tools and information, con artists can also take advantage of the Internet to help them uncover new ways to swindle innocent people. Their techniques are becoming more and more difficult to spot as technologies continue to advance.

Luckily for us, we can fight against these scam artists. We can "out" them and warn other Internet users about what to look for in emails or software viruses. Sharing information and reporting these scams is a proactive method for stopping these predators.

A friend of mine recently received this email (see text below) from a scam artist posing as PayPal. At first glance, it looks legit because they duplicated PayPal's logo and website design layout. The message seems innocent enough - PayPal's computer systems experienced technical difficulties which may have affected member's account information. The email requests that members take the simple precautionary action of logging in to check their account to ensure nothing has been changed. Once you click on the link provided and enter your username and password, the scam artist immediately captures your PayPal login information and can make purchases using your account.

Here is the message received from the phony PayPal email:

Dear Paypal User, Today we had some trouble with one of our computer systems. While the trouble appears to be minor, we are not taking any chances. We decided to take the troubled system offline and replace it with a new system. Unfortunately this caused us to lose some member data. Please follow the link below and log into your account to make sure your information is not affected. Account balances have not been affected. Because of the inconvenience this causes we are giving all users that repair their missing data their next two incoming transfers for free! You will pay no fees for your next two incoming transfers*. https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr/?cmd=_login-run Thank you for using PayPal! * - If fees would normally apply, you will not pay anything for the next two incoming transfers you receive. PayPal Security PROTECT YOUR PASSWORD NEVER give your password to anyone and ONLY log in at PayPal's website. If anyone asks for your password, please follow the Security Tips instructions on the PayPal website.

So what should you do?

In this instance, you can forward the email to spoof@paypal.com. PayPal will immediately work to shut down the scam site.

However, if it's another scam not related to PayPal, you can forward the email to spam@uce.gov. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will place your email in a database and use the combined information to track down and prosecute the scammer/spammers.

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