E-Mail Phishing & PayPal Scams

Amanda Bar
I was recently checking my e-mail when I came upon this peculiar message:


Apparently a purchase had been attempted on my PayPal account for $440!  Naturally I clicked on the "Dispute Transaction" link conveniently scattered throughout the e-mail, but when I was redirected to the PayPal website I was immediately taken to a page which required all of my account information - my full name, address, and my credit card information.  (DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER!)  Working at a police department where I handle fraud cases all the time, I recognized a scam when I saw one.  I promptly forwarded PayPal security the e-mail and changed my login password for good measure.  Before I continue it is important to note: do not use the PayPal web address listed in the e-mail!  If the e-mail is a scam the link will redirect you to a fake PayPal that looks nearly identical to the real thing; open a new window and manually type in www.paypal.com.

These phishing scams are designed to put you, the target, in fear over a supposed charge made on your account - oftentimes people become so overwhelmed at correcting this false transaction that they don't use proper sense when handing out their personal information over websites.  There are some very telling clues, however, that you can look for in order to verify whether you're the victim of a spoof e-mail; the first thing I noticed was that there was no transaction ID - all PayPal payments come with a numerical identification number.  There was also no link back to the product I had supposedly purchased - as I said, I am a frequent eBay shopper and all e-mails contain links back to the product in question.  Also, and most importantly, I checked both my PayPal and Bank of America accounts - despite the e-mails claim, no transaction was listed in regards to a $440 purchase. 

My account had never been compromised, it turns out, but it easily could have if I had fallen for this well-made scheme.  Both the e-mail and the fake PayPal site looked legit at first glance, but it could have cost me big if I hadn't taken the time to investigate.  Take this as a warning to all of you PayPal/online shoppers!  For more information on how to spot a scam e-mail, go here.

Posted by Amanda Conwell on | | Comments (3)

A Question of Taste Versus Cost

Amanda Bar


Having purchased a new house I have come to realize what a slow process transferring all of my current mail, bills, licenses, etc. to my new address will be.  Today I decided to order some new checks, and here's where the frivolous spending comes in.  Bank of America was offering me free Advantage checks (pictured above) - absolutely no charge to me, and perfectly respectable in every way...except that they were ugly; and I'm not talking about "reasonably acceptable"-ugly, I'm talking about "shield your eyes"-ugly.  My old, standard freebie Bank of America checks were perfectly fine - light blue & white with a small bank logo - but these supposedly superior Advantage checks are pale gray and faux-textured, and look so uninspired and boring that I think I actually fell asleep while writing this post.  Free checks or not, any reasonably tasteful person would do the exact same thing I did - buy my own personalized checks!  While the selection could have been a little broader (Especially that Disney selection! Not every Disney product has to have Mickey Mouse plastered all over it...there are other characters, you know!) I found a few Batman checks that I was more than happy to snag for my own.  The checks themselves were $16.31 for a pack of 150, and I purchased a special shipping method called "Check Protect" for $10.11 (standard bulk mail was about $2.50), so the entire cost came to $28.00 even.  Needless spending?  I'm not even going to say "perhaps" when I know the answer is a big fat "YES", but I thought my new home deserved a little something special...and whenever I feel a twing of guilt over my purchase, a peek at those hideous Advantage checks will put my wallet at ease.


Posted by Amanda Conwell on | | Comments (3)

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