Scammers target PayPal accounts

Scammers have found several ways to target people with PayPal accounts. Con artists have been e-mailing fake payment confirmations claiming to be from PayPal that contain links that, if clicked, allow them to install malicious malware.

Phishing scams look like legitimate e-mails, and they are getting more sophisticated every day. What these con artists are really after is banking and financial information. And they won’t mind destroying a user’s computer to get it.

Here’s how the scam works: An account holder will get an e-mail claiming to be from PayPal. The message says that they have recently sent a payment through the PayPal account. Since the payment will sound foreign, there is an option to “cancel the order” if the transaction wasn’t made by the user. By clicking that button, the scam artist is given complete access to the victim’s computer and all the files and information stored on it.

“Allowing a scammer to access your computer can open you up to the risk of identity theft,” says Paula Fleming, spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau (BBB). “Scam artists can install malware that records passwords or hunts for personal information, such as bank account numbers, on your computer.”

There are steps people can take to protect themselves from phishing e-mails:

— Call before clicking: If something sounds suspicious, confirm it by calling the company or checking the company website. Type the URL directly into the browser or do a web search. Don’t click on any links in unexpected messages.

— Look for misspellings: Look out for spelling and grammar mistakes when dealing with a suspicious-looking e-mail claiming to come from well known companies. Additionally, check the copyright at the bottom of the e-mail. If it looks even slightly different, then it is most likely a fake.

— Be cautious of generic e-mails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake e-mails. Recipients should always be wary of messages that don’t contain their name, last digits of their account number, or other personalized information.

Check out more BBB Tips: Many phishing scams use similar techniques; click here for more advice on how to avoid these scams.

Anyone who suspects they have received a fake e-mail confirmation from PayPal, should forward the e-mail to [email protected], and report the scam to BBB Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us.

For more information, go to bbb.org. — from the BBB.

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