I wrote this on Jun 22, 2006 but you’ll notice that all of this advice applies today as well. Spoofers may get smarter but the same advice still works.

Be aware – spoofers often use fake email addresses that look like they’re from your bank, major retailers, and even PayPal to fool you into revealing your password and financial information.

  • Look out for any email that starts with something like “Dear PayPal user” or “valued customer,” instead of your name.

  • Be wary of emails asking you for personal information such as:

    • Credit and debit card numbers
    • Bank account numbers
    • Driver’s license numbers
    • Email addresses
    • Passwords
    • Your full name
    1. Never give out your username or password on a site you’ve clicked through to from an email – especially if the email uses a false sense of urgency about your account being closed or your credit cards expiring.
    2. Instead, if you doubt the authenticity of an email from a trusted vendor, simply open a new web browser, type in the URL by hand, and perform the requested activity.
    3. Look closely at any email about updating your account, password, or credit card numbers. Spoofers use tricks like these to get you to respond. See an example of a spoof email.
    4. Visit the PayPal Anti-Spoof page for more information.

    The list above came from a PayPal email a while ago and I am posting it here because, for some reason, no matter how fake these emails look, there are still some people falling for them. A good friend of mine fell for an eBay one last year.

    At this point, I just assume every single email from eBay or PayPal is a scam, unless it is the newsletters which I usually just read and then delete. When you’ve seen enough real eBay and PayPal emails, it’s relatively easy to spot a fake.

    I think that for a lot of people, eBay is still this wide world of mystery so when they get an email like that, they immediately assume the Internet demons have magically given them an account.

    More importantly, who are the smiling people that are in every spoof email? How do they sleep at night?