E-mail phishing

Phishing: Beware of e-mail offers too good to be true

By Alex Morones
Technical Writer and Editor, Office of Information Technology

(Sept. 12, 2006)--We have all received the following types of get-rich-quick and account review e-mail messages, and most of us know that our best response is simply to delete them. Called "phishing" -- sending an e-mail to a user falsely claiming to be an established legitimate enterprise in an attempt to scam the user into surrendering private information or money that will be used for identity theft...

  • The family of a deposed African leader offers to share his wealth if you will let them use your U.S. bank account.
  • You've won millions in a Euro lottery for which your e-mail address was "automatically" entered.
  • There has been suspicious activity, and you are urgently requested to update your bank, credit union, PayPal or eBay account.
  • You can make thousands of dollars by using your personal computer while working at home.

These messages all have something in common -- if you respond to them, you will be asked to send money -- sometimes thousands of dollars -- or you will be asked to provide credit card account information. The problem is... this money or information would go to a thief.

E-mails such as these come to our mailboxes because some people continue to take the bait.

We might presume that people who are new to personal computing are the ones who are most susceptible to these types of e-mail offers. However, according to recent anecdotal evidence, students and others who are living on their own for the first time also are becoming victims. Ironically, the group of people we might think is the most tech-savvy might also be among the naive.

Two weeks ago, local Washington Mutual Bank officials prevented at least three students from purchasing thousands of dollars in money orders that were to be sent overseas to e-mail scammers.

Don't become a victim, and don't presume that students, friends and family know about e-mail scammers. Spread the word.

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