“Your Account Is Overdue”, …
[ Updated on May 30, 2014 ]
“Who do I trust? Is this a Criminal? How to know the difference?”
Our suggestion… Use other resources to pursue the Truth, and Delete This Message!
AND… DO NOT open the attachments! DO NOT click on highlighted or bold text!
So many people want to hurt you. Our government (and many other countries) encourage criminal behavior. Convicted felons are being released from prison almost daily. Even children can crack secure networks using previously confidential techniques. We encourage you to trust no one!
You have many opportunities to lose your identity, bank accounts, credit, and more. Identity Theft often begins with activities called phishing or pharming. These once were federal offenses, but our federal government is selectively ignoring laws “they” do not like. We all must be ever vigilant to protect our personal privacy.
- 1 in 4 US households have been victimized
- 10 million people last year affected
- Loss to businesses tops $47.6 billion
- Loss to victims about $5 billion
- Each victim spends about 30 hours trying to recover their name.
Here is a “Short Course” in personal security:
1. Is this message bogus? Is it really from the company named? Does your email software display the entire email address of the sender? Does this address show the company name or abbreviation, to the right of the “@” symbol?
2. By itself, this is not positive identification. Write down the string of characters to the right of the”@” symbol. In the URL space of your Internet browser, type this string of characters, including periods and suffixes, and tap Enter. What do you see? If you are not seeing the website of a legitimate company, delete the email message.
3. A form of criminal deception — the name of a reputable company appears inside a string of other letters and numbers. The mind sees what it wants to see, and victims become convinced they are seeing legitimate website URLs. (we must know what the real website actually is)
4. For legitimate business information, you can always contact the Better Business Bureau. Use your ZIP code or City, State to find the website of the BBB serving your area and phone numbers for agencies near where you live.
5. Look at the suffix of the email address. Is it .com .org or one of the new suffixes now being made available? Legitimate companies do not hide behind obscure addresses. This E-Mail Suffix List from Cantus Information Products of Australia will help you identify its origin. Is your message from a trustworthy and friendly country?
6. Look at the “From” field. Do you recognize the full name of a person, a known business name or publication title? If not, use other means to verify legitimacy.
7. Look at the “Subject” field. Beware of false or misleading statements, any of which may be worded to lure you into a trap. “Your parcel arrived” (did you order something?) “Verify your address” (just replying to this message targets you for further activity — possibly criminal, possibly simply unwanted)
8. Look at the message itself. Do you see your first and last name? (phishing and pharming involve thousands of messages, so they probably will not use your name)
9. In the “To” field, does it show your personal or company name? (“Undisclosed-recipients” may hide thousands of addresses and may indicate phishing and pharming)
10. Look again at the message itself. Are there spelling errors? (sender may not speak English) Do you see the actual name of the business? (terse messages hide sender’s true identity) Are there a person’s name and job title, personal or business address, phone number, personal email address, and FAX number? (absence of these robs credibility) Are URLs to other webpages obscured or hidden (what are they hiding and why?)
11. Look for endorsements by known business service organizations. Is it affiliated with the Better Business Bureau? (In USA and Canada) Is it “BBB Accredited?” Since the BBB encourages high ethics, affiliated companies will probably already have full information in their email messages.
12. Look for messages containing only graphics (remote content). If your email product protects you by not displaying this remote content, make your credibility evaluation ONLY on what is shown without clicking the “Show Remote Content” button.
13. Look for recognized company emblems, trademarks, and logos. Be careful, because the graphic may appear correct (shapes and colors) but might have been generated by cheap graphics software. Go separately to the legitimate website (do not click on links in the suspect message) — do you see the real emblem or logo?
14. Does the Subject line show “SPAM”? If the sender’s address is unknown to you and your computer, suspect messages may appear this way. Suggestion: add valid addresses to your address book.
And there’s more…
15. Criminals also create fake websites. If you somehow follow links from one of these bad email messages, you may be directed to a bogus website. It will appear to be legitimate with similar webpages and information arrangement, but this appearance is also intended to mislead you and convince you to willingly surrender passwords, Social Security Numbers, and residential addresses — everything criminals need to destroy you. (this is why we recommend not using any information from questionable email messages)
16. Look for poor grammar and incorrect punctuation (incorrect usage of English may hide criminal activity, both foreign and domestic).
17. Look for missing words and punctuation (sender may not know the difference between dont and don’t).
18. Look for copyright symbols (criminals don’t care about the significance of protected materials).
19. Criminals can be very intelligent. They will avoid any behavior that causes them to break state and/or federal laws (like refusing to send fraudulent materials via the U.S. Postal Service; if you ask for a letter, don’t be surprised if they refuse).
20. Be aware of criminal organizations, posing as legitimate businesses. Telephone calls made to and from such organizations may appear to be real with background noises — phones ringing, office chatter, etc. — All of this is intended to distract you. If they convince you to surrender any personal information, you have become their next victim.
“OK. What else should I do?”
21. Contact the person or company directly (do not use any part of the email message, including telephone numbers, email addresses, or website URLs — all of these may be bogus and send you directly to the criminals).
22. Only use reliable information such as you find on the real company website. (be sure it is the real website)
23. On this real website, access your personal account using your ID and password to contact the company.
24. Verbally communicate the nature of information taken from the email message, mailer, or telephone caller.
25. If the questionable communication involves a personal action (status of shipment, verify your address, etc.), request that the company or governmental agency representative mail you a First Class, certified or registered letter containing a letter addressed to you personally. The letter must be addressed to you and show the specific action requested of you.
26. If any cash award or cash payment is involved, this First Class, certified or registered envelop should contain a cashier’s check made out to you personally or a statement (bill) bearing your name and address. Never send cash to qualify for a cash reward.
27. Always remember — involving the U.S. Postal Service in any crime is also a federal offense, and — if you receive such a letter — you will now have physical evidence (the envelop and its contents) of the crime.
28. Never be afraid to contact local law enforcement agencies wherever you live. Be sure to ask for and write down the names of every person you talk with. And ask if there is a reference number for each contact call or visit — your conversation is probably being entered into a database for later reference. Give such reference number(s) at the start of each follow-up conversation.
29. Always feel welcomed to contact the Better Business Bureau. Use your ZIP code or City, State to find the website of the BBB serving your area and phone numbers for agencies near where you live.
30. And always consider legal council, because reputable law firms will not charge for an initial consultation. Be sure you ask about this — before you meet with or talk to an attorney.
Remember the quotation that P.T. Barnum may have said, “There’s a sucker born every minute!” If you respond to email messages, letters, or telephone callers, you risk paying a dear price by being the next victim of a criminal. -thnc
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