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A Word of Caution

I just recieved a security e-mail from "PayPal" that said:

Dear PayPal Member1,

As part of our security measures, we regularly screen activity in the PayPal system.
We recently noticed the following issue on your account:

We would like to ensure that your account was not accessed by an
unauthorized third party. Because protecting the security of your account
is our primary concern, we have limited access to sensitive PayPal account
features. We understand that this may be an inconvenience but please
understand that this temporary limitation is for your protection.

For your protection, we have limited access to your account until
additional security measures can be completed. We apologize for any
inconvenience this may cause.

To review your account and restore your access, please visit PayPal as soon as possible:


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

PayPal Email ID PP522

Please do not reply to this message. Mail sent to this address cannot be
answered. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account and choose the
'Help' link in the header of any page.

1 Note: All PayPal emails will greet you by your first and last name.

This seemed pretty clear, straightforward, and professional. It sounds like something PayPal might actually send out... except it was directed at an e-mail address I haven't registered with PayPal. My PayPal account is basically expired. None of my information is current, so I figured it would be a good time for an experiment. I kicked up the firewall security and clicked.

It prompted me to "sign in." I made up a phony e-mail (honeyslut477@yahoo.com, if you're curious) and keysmashed a password. It let me right on through as though I had supplied it with any actual information. What? Did you really think I was going to use my personal log-in if I didn't have to?

It took me to a page which asked me to verify all my credit card information, address information, and give the last four digets of my social security number. Kind of odd for a "security check", but the big problem here is that it's not a secure site. The little lock that should be at the bottom of the browser isn't there. My mommy taught me to fear the intarwebs and the nasty hacker folk who want to run off with my identity and purchase 80 dozen banana guards. Whenever I send off personal information over the web I always check for the little lock. PayPal would have said lock, and where PayPal usually has comforting reminders of their fabulous security, there are none on this site.

This is an elaborate phishing scam, and I reported it to PayPal. They confirmed it was a scam in under 5 minutes. They're on top of their game over there.

Still, It's a heck of a forgery. It looks very similar to the real, honest-to-God PayPal, but - as always - some details give it away. The 10 second "sign-in" redirection instead of Paypal's 5. Lack of "secure sign-in" reassurance, the different lock graphics above the sign-in, the slight pixelization of the sans serif font (which I really had to stare at to find). The link you're given in the e-mail isn't where you end up. Finally, when you go straight to PayPal and sign in, they don't warn you about temporary restrictions on your account. Oh, and when you ask them about it? They say, "wuzzunt me."

Just keep an eye out. If you get a similar "security notification," don't click the link. In fact, if you ever get an e-mail about account status, you should always go right to the source directly instead of following a provided link. I just wanted to give the heads up.

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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 13th, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC)
I've gotten emails like that before. And I don't even use PayPal. They're definitely scams. I remember tracing the IP on one email and it traced back to Russia, I believe. You should report them to PayPal.
Feb. 13th, 2007 05:04 pm (UTC)
O I did. Don't worry.
Feb. 13th, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC)
Not to mention Paypal won't address you as "member" - they always use your name in correspondence. :)

Feb. 13th, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I have that in there as a footnote. :)
Feb. 13th, 2007 05:06 pm (UTC)
I have gotten that before on an email that is not on my paypal account so it wasn't that much of a stretch for me to figure out it was another scam. When it comes to emails that ask me for any notification, I'm wary.
Feb. 13th, 2007 05:32 pm (UTC)
That's a good practice to be in.
Feb. 13th, 2007 05:21 pm (UTC)
I am constantly getting authentic-looking e-mails from "PayPal" and "Ebay" and even "Facebook." I just delete them, since they're coming to my work e-mail, and we don't have any of those three things set up under that e-mail address.

You should never click on links to e-mails like this - at least not until you've actually logged into the website (not through the e-mail) to see if there's any messages on there for you. You should also contact that company to let them know about the e-mail - they can also let you know if the e-mail is legit or not.
Feb. 13th, 2007 05:32 pm (UTC)
I did all of those things. :)
Feb. 13th, 2007 05:54 pm (UTC)
I got one of those myself a few weeks back; my main clue was that it wasn't an html-email.
Feb. 13th, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
Good call. I think everyone at the U of M got one. All the peeps I've talked to have. I wrote this as a blog for class... and figured I'd stick it here.

I'm thinking about deleting it though.
Feb. 13th, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
I got one from Western Union Bank saying that something was wrong with my account and it told me to type in all my info. funny thing, I don't have a Western Union account.
Feb. 13th, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
I've gotten several of those, and I have always reported them to PayPal. At one time I had two PayPal accounts, but I have only ever gotten those things for one of them, so I closed it, and verified with PayPal that it was indeed closed. And yet, I still get those "security check" emails. The sad thing is that some people are stupid enough, or trusting enough, to actually give all of that information.

There must be a special circle of hell for people who try to scam innocents out of their money.
Feb. 13th, 2007 11:09 pm (UTC)
I'm sure it was about as elaborate as stealing the layout code from ebay's website and making up some new "authentic-looking" domain like www.xxx.ebay.britneyspearstopless.ru. I hate it whenever scams like this gain prominence because it reminds me just how computer-illiterate the world really is.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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