Tuesday, March 9, 2010

How To Identify Authentic Emails

Cry for Help: 36 Scam Emails from AfricaThe five things wrong with the email from yesterday's post are as follows.
1) The email was addressed to:    To: undisclosed-recipients:;
2) The email said, "Dear PayPal Customer,"
3) No Logo
4) They asked me to click on a link which was not www.paypal.com
5) There was no small print at the bottom of the email telling me to not respond to this automated email and that if I required further help I should go login to my account at their website. 
You should take a look at an actual email that PayPal really has sent you after you make a purchase and paid for a product using PayPal. You will notice that this message includes the five differences noted above that the email message as compared to the one my Mom received. 
First of all, PayPal has all of my information. They know who I am when they send me mail, even when they send out mass emails they always say, "Dear Patrick Jolley."
Secondly, the wording of the email was to induce fear among the recipients.  It was not nice, nor businesslike. 
Thirdly, the recipients.  Again, PayPal knows who I am.  They send emails to me, not to undisclosed recipients. 
Fourthly, If PayPal wants me to update personal information or billing or shipping information they will ask that I log in securely on their site and do so in the normal manner.  They will not supply a link. They will merely remind me that I can go to their website by TYPING in or COPYING in www.paypal.com.  Why typing or copying only?  Because if a link is supplied, it may say one thing but go to another place entirely. It is called the link for a reason.  Think of webpages, when it says click on News, or Careers, or Movies, or Click Here, behind all that underlined text is a web address that is not www.news.com but rather more likely to be http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032525/ if you were searching on MSNBC.com. 
Oh, and I kindly replaced the direction of the supplied link in yesterday's email to a nice article you can read from CSU to learn more about phishing.
Fifthly, and lastly, did you ever notice that Amazon, Ebay, PayPal, and your bank and whomever else contacts you almost always have the same thing on the bottom of their emails?  It is always smaller print that says, "Please do not respond to this email as it is not monitored and automatically generated or something or other."  Simply put a program automatically generates the email to let you know that your purchase was accepted and is being shipped and is being processed, etc.  You cannot talk to anyone real on the other end. If you need help or assistance you are required to log in securely on their website and go to the help menu from there. 
Phishing Exposed 
Please look at the email below and compare and contrast it to the one I sent you earlier.  This way you can spot "phishing" emails easier and be a little safer on the web. 
Also, one last thing, if you are not sure. Do not do anything.  If it is fake, it will either go away, or come back with the exact same wording or something.  Besides a closed account is better than one open to a stranger. 

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