I received a lot of positive responses (comments and email) after last week’s warning about bogus Yahoo! Lottery scams, so I thought I’d keep with that theme and offer up some more tips.
Hopefully just about everyone knows that when someone sends an “URGENT” message “from the desk of…” some guy insisting that you just lucked into a fortune, your “too good to be true” alarms should sound off.
But a well crafted phishing email can be a little harder to spot without looking for key indicators. A quick glance at my spam folder revealed two different scammers posing as PayPal, notifying me of an urgent need to click a link and verify information.
If you look at the screenshot on the right you will see that the scammer is using the updated PayPal logo, but don’t let that give you a false sense of security. The greeting gives it all away. PayPal will ALWAYS address you formally by the name registered to your account. So if you have a personal account it will be your name, and if you have a business account it will reference your business name. Never as “Dear PayPal Member” or “Account Holder”.
Now that doesn’t mean that a message addressing you correctly is guaranteed to be legit, but it does mean that a message not addressing you directly is an obvious ruse.
Once you get past the greeting, you can also look for mistakes in the copy. In the above example there is an extra period at the end of a paragraph. In the other sample there is a missing return space between paragraphs. These are small things, but a lot of scammers seem to miss them.
Also, both examples urge you to click a link to go somewhere and input information … which most reputable sites won’t ask you to do.
Remember that these aren’t tips to confirm that a message is authentic, but rather clues to easily filter out a lot of the bad ones that aren’t authentic. Ultimately your best bet is open a new window and visit the site how you normally would, and look for any alert messages there. If you have a problem with your account they will usually notify there too.
Hope this helps a little more!