Tips to recognize if that Bank of America email is bogus: Internet ScamBusters #227
Today we have two important topics for you:
- Bank of America Survey Phishing Email
- The PayPal Security Center: Tips for Fighting Phishing and Fraud.
You’ll find out about a new round of phishing emails, and some useful resources to prevent phishing, fraud and identity theft.
First, though, we recommend you check out the most popular articles from our other sites during the past week:
Identity Theft and New Credit Report Freeze Laws: The effects of identity theft may be reduced by a credit report freeze.
Credit Cards for Married Couples: Find out the pros and cons of separate credit cards for couples.
Hidden Deals in Education: Help your high school student get a jump on his or her education by taking some advanced placement courses.
Savvy Consumers and Oil Changes: Tips for the savvy consumer on the importance of car maintenance.
On to today’s topics…
Bank of America Survey Phishing Email
Last week we received a Bank of America phishing email that was supposed to look like it was sent by Bank of America to survey their customers. This email had the Bank of America logo on top. Here’s the email:
— Begin Bank of America Survey Phishing Email —
As you know, Bank of America always cares first of all for comfort and safety of the users. To make our service even more convenient and to improve results of mutual partnership we have made a decision to specify some features by asking our users.
The most convenient way is, certainly, to do it online. We suggest you to go to the link
and to answer some questions. The opinion of each user will be considered individually. We respect and we appreciate you and your free time, therefore we offer you for some minutes, required for filling in the questioning, compensation in amount of $15 that will be sent to your personal account.
We ask you not to neglect the opportunity to make your presence among the clients of Bank of America even more comfortable and convenient and to treat it seriously, not to hurry with answers, to consider them thoroughly. If the experience of this questioning becomes successful, we shall continue a similar practice, and the clients who have participated in this, the very first, survey will receive bonuses. Which bonuses? You will learn it from our circulars. Also you can follow the updating of the information on our official site.
Don’t put off our questioning, take part in it right now.
Bank of America
— End Bank of America Survey Phishing Email —
Naturally, the actual link in the email did not go to the (non-existent) page on the Bank of America website shown above, but instead went to a bogus phishing website.
This bogus site used the information victims entered for stealing money, identities or perhaps both.
Here are some tips you can use to recognize this Bank of America email is bogus:
- It’s addressed to “Dear customer!” rather than to me personally.
- It was sent to an email address I’d never use for banking.
- The email is poorly written.
- It offers a reward for participation but then asks for the account number on the bogus website.
And obviously, if you don’t have an account with Bank of America, that’s a dead giveaway.
Action: Delete all phishing emails. If you think an email may be legitimate, type the address of the company directly into your browser.
The PayPal Security Center: Tips for Fighting Phishing and Fraud
In an age where you can instantly send and receive money through an online payment service such as PayPal, it truly pays to know how safe your transactions are — and what you can do to protect yourself from online fraud.
PayPal has set up the PayPal Security Center, which has some excellent information and tools. You can access it from the left nav bar when you log into your account.
PayPal has also set up a few security features that every user should be aware of to avoid phishing, fraud, and identity theft.
Protection from Identity Theft
With PayPal, you can shop online without ever directly sharing your personal banking information (credit card numbers or checking account numbers) with a merchant.
To keep a close eye on your credit, PayPal has teamed up with Equifax to give all U.S. customers free Equifax Credit Alerts. These email alerts notify you if anything on your credit report changes, giving you an early warning if someone tries to open an account in your name. This service is not inexpensive for non-members.
(Note: When you sign up, there is a charge if you want this service from the other credit bureaus — only Equifax is free. We have not tried to sign up for this PayPal Equifax service to verify how it works or that it is, in fact, free.)
You can find out more about how to sign up by clicking on “Free Tools” from the PayPal Security Center, and then selecting “Equifax Credit Alerts(tm) for PayPal users.”
Protection from Phishing
If you receive email from PayPal that asks for any of the following personal information, it is a fraud:
- Bank account information
- Credit/Debit card information
- Driver’s license information
- Email addresses
- PINs or passwords
- Your full name.
Fraudulent email often looks legitimate, but if you receive email with any of these telltale signs of phishing, PayPal advises you NOT to click on any of the links in the email:
- The “From” line in the email may have a legitimate-looking address, but this does not ensure that PayPal actually sent the email.
- If the greeting says something like “Dear Member,” chances are the email is fraudulent. All PayPal emails will greet you by your full name.
- Any email that says your account information must be updated immediately or it will be suspended is a phishing email.
- Many phishing emails will contain a link that looks real, such as paypal.com, but to check its validity, hover over the link with your mouse and look at the URL. If the link looks suspicious, don’t click on it. Even better, go directly to your browser and type in paypal.com, and log into your account directly from the browser.
- PayPal never sends attachments, so if the email contains an attached file, don’t click on it. Phishing emails often send attachments that contain spyware.
If you suspect an email of phishing, forward the entire email to firstname.lastname@example.org and then delete it.
Protection from Fraud
In addition to protecting buyers from online fraud, PayPal also protects sellers. Just click on “Selling Safely” when you’re at the PayPal Security Center. You’ll find information on many security measures, including:
- Secure data encryption
- Antifraud risk models
- Address Verification System (for processing credit cards)
- Card Security Code (for processing credit cards)
- PayPal Antifraud specialists to help you resolve issues.
There is no question that there are important benefits of online buying and selling. However, be careful to reduce the related costs associated with identity theft, fraud, and phishing.
It is important to know that although services such as PayPal try to protect you from fraud, you must be careful and keep a watchful eye on your credit report, as well as your PayPal and other financial accounts.
And as a ScamBusters subscriber, we’ll help you stay aware of the new and ongoing threats posed by online and offline scammers.
Time to close — we’re off to take a walk. See you next week.