Friday, March 7, 2008

Avoid Identity Theft – Don’t Go Phishing

Many people have heard of phishing but still don’t understand the concept. Phishing is an attempt to fraudulently gain access to your username and password for an online account that contains sensitive information such as your credit card number. Phishing is commonly executed via email. Perhaps the best way to explain phishing is to show an example.

Below is a common phishing attempt received by my dad via email earlier this week:

From: "PayPal Inc"
Date: March 5, 2008 8:45:56 AM CST
Subject: Required Security Update

Dear Customer,

As part of our security measures, we regularly screen activity in the PayPal system. We are contacting you after noticing an issue on your account.

We requested information from you for the following reason:

Our system detected unusual activity on your PayPal account.

Case ID Number: PP-316-510-158

Please click the link below and log in as soon as possible: is normally a link)

Once you log in, you will be provided with steps to restore your account access. We appreciate your understanding as we work to ensure account safety.

In accordance with PayPal's User Agreement, your account access will remain limited until the issue has been resolved. Unfortunately, if access to your account remains limited for an extended period of time, it may result in further limitations or eventual account closure.

We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Please understand that this is a security measure intended to help protect you and your account. We apologize for any inconvenience.

PayPal Account Review Department
The above email allegedly comes from PayPal claiming “unusual activity on your PayPal account” and makes an attempt to look legitimate. Like many phishing attempts, this email tries to create panic so you immediately click on the link to investigate the issue. When you receive an email like this, don’t panic. Immediately delete the email and never click on the link. If you are concerned that your account may be compromised then contact your account provider directly.


rob said...

I fell victim to phishing at least twice in the last five years. It has become a very popular method of identity theft.

Happy Birthday Tim...

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