Internet scammers get more and more sophisticated every day. Well over a year ago, this site I warned you on this blog about the trouble of what are called “phishing scams“. This weekend I’ve been inundated with e-mails that are purportedly from PayPal, online warning me that my account has been flagged, and if I don’t follow a link given in the e-mail, my account will be suspended.
For a while, the phishing scams I’ve seen have been mostly bad imitations of e-mails sent by companies. If anything, they give a graphic with the institution’s logo, but not much else of substance. They are usually rife with misspellings, and at first glance are easy to see as being phishing attacks.
Here is a picture of the message I received. Click on it to enlarge it.
When I examined the email further, I looked at the code and noticed that none of the images from the e-mail were stored on PayPal servers. Instead the images were being fetched from an external website that I won’t name here.
I also noticed that the link that is the “Click Here” link was redirected through Google’s webserver to an external IP address, to a subfolder named “paypal.com” If you weren’t paying close attention, you might think that the link went to a legitimate PayPal page.
Be careful. This is another attempt to get your account information to steal your money. If you ever get an e-mail from your bank, or other financial institution (like PayPal) be VERY careful if they tell you that you need to update your information or they will suspend your account. This is a very common method of phishing, but is not something your bank will usually do.
In any case, you should never click on the links in such messages. Instead, type in the URL of your financial institution manually in your browser’s address bar. If they legitimately need you to take some action on your account, usually the first screen you’ll see when you log in will tell you. But make sure that you’ve typed the URL in yourself. Never EVER follow links from your e-mail to your bank or financial institution.
There are a lot of scam artists out to get your money. There are a lot of ways that they are trying to accomplish it. You can protect yourself and your money by being VERY careful anytime somebody e-mails or calls you about one of your accounts.
If you get a message that you believe is a phishing attack, you should see if your e-mail provider supports “report as phishing.” (Gmail, for example does.) You can also send the message to your financial institution to verify that it is genuine. If its not, they will then be alerted that an attack against their clients is occurring.
Good luck, and be smart!!