Several weeks ago there was a thread in one of the forums I frequent about how they got scammed into giving all their private information to what they thought was PayPal. Instead it was an unknown party who just gained access to not only their PayPal account, but their bank account and social security number. Does this sound familiar to you? Do you know how to spot the scammers that inundate your email with urgent notices? If you don’t, here are a few tips to help you from falling prey to their schemes.
Convenience vs. Intelligence
I’m sure you have received those emails from PayPal or even one of your credit card companies or Ebay urging you to act quickly because a third party has tried to access your account and you need to restore your account information. These emails look exactly like the ones you normally receive; the company’s logo is there, their branding, their image. Unfortunately it is very easy to duplicate a web page and anyone can download an image from the Internet. They want you to feel safe, secure and as if they are looking out for your best interest so they can rob you of your money and your identity.
Of course they have provided a link for your convenience. If you were to click on the link, the web page appears to look almost exactly like the site you normally visit. Just click on it, re-enter all your information and everything will be fine…for them anyway. Your rule of thumb should be to NEVER click on a link in your email messages, even if it looks legitimate.
Lack of Attention to Details
The problem is we are so caught up in life, we don’t pay attention to the details. Click on that link and if you look at the web address, it is very apparent it is not the site you should be at. Oh sure, it may have the word ‘PayPal’ somewhere in the URL, but the main address, after the www is not their normal site.
Instead, open your browser and type in the Web address of the actual company. Log into your account as you normally do. If there are any problems, it will surely tell you after you try to log in. Don’t let an urgent message or convenient link distract you from what is really going on.
Besides, if PayPal, a credit card company, your personal or business bank, or similar company holding your personal information really had a problem with your account, they are not going to send you an email. They will contact you by telephone or even by mail, they will hound you for every bit of information to verify you are who you are and then inform you of what the problem is.
Keep these tips in mind before you click on that convenient link and don’t get scammed. You could lose hundreds, even thousands of dollars, but one thing is for sure…you will spend an enormous amount of time cancelling your cards, waiting to get new ones, getting new bank account numbers, ordering new checks and a lot more frustration, not to mention the possibility of blemishing your credit and reputation.