March 14, 2006
Dear CNET members,
It seems you can never be too cautious when it comes to your personal information. Picture this scenario: You're at home, sitting at the computer with a cup of coffee, checking your e-mail. You're relaxed. You have an e-mail from PayPal with the subject "Please update your account information." It seems legit, so you open the e-mail, which looks authentic as well. According to the e-mail, PayPal needs you to enter your username, your password, and your credit card number. Just click the link to begin. Wait a sec--you need my what?!?
Hopefully, you'll ask yourself this question before submitting or clicking anything. But if you're like I was one time, you will be falling for a phishing scam. Despite all the warnings I had read about phishing, I actually clicked one of these links a few months ago and started logging in. Or, I should say, I gave away my password. Luckily, I immediately realized what I was doing, logged into PayPal--the real one--changed my password, and forwarded the fake e-mail to PayPal for investigation. But this is how they get you: when your guard is down. So what can you do about it? For starters, check out Tom Merritt's latest Real Deal column, "How to avoid phishing scams." And if you have a phishing story of your own, tell us about it here.
This week's hot topic:
Reeled in by phishing
As phishing scams get more and more sophisticated, even the savviest Internet users are falling for them--hook, line, and sinker. In his latest Real Deal column, Editor Tom Merritt shares some tips on how not to get hooked. Many of you also contributed your own phishing experiences.
Name that scam
After responding to a fake e-mail asking for her PayPal account information, CNET member mjstod's daughter realized it was a scam and quickly called PayPal and her bank to change her account information. The main tip-off it was a scam? PayPal will always use your full name in any e-mail it sends you.
Read mjstod's full post in CNET TalkBack
Too much information
Out of curiosity, CNET member rlcato clicked a link from an e-mail he knew was a phishing scam. Unfortunately, once on the fake site, a password utility on his system was fooled by the site's fake URL and automatically entered his PayPal account information.
Read rlcato's full post in CNET TalkBack
CNET member rholley13 also intentionally went to a site he knew was a scam, just to see how well it was set up. But his virus protection immediately went into action, as the site tried to install malicious software on his machine.
Read rholley13's full post in CNET TalkBack
Have you fallen victim to a phishing scam? Have some advice on keeping your accounts secure? Read "How to avoid phishing scams," then speak up in the TalkBack section.
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