Yesterday I received two email messages that were supposedly from "Visa Card Department firstname.lastname@example.org" telling me that I had one or more alerts. Each message contained a link for me to click in order to view the alert. Needless to say I did not click the link. There were several clues that lead me to believe that this email is a scam so I figured it would be good to share this with everyone and remind you all to be careful when you receive unsolicited email messages...even if you think you know who they are from. Here were the clues:
- The email was sent to me as a "blind copy." You can tell that by the capital BC to the right of the envelope icon in the GroupWise inbox.
- The email was from Visa, not Citibank or Capital One or Chase. In all other cases where I receive email from financial institutions I've asked to receive them and they come specifically from that bank or credit union. And NEVER for anything as important as a problem with my card...that is always a phone call.
- When I right-clicked the link and selected "Properties" from the menu I saw that it was really a link to "http://unioncn.cn/." Obviously not Visa and the "cn" tells me that this site is in China. Hmmmm
So if you get this Visa scam or any other suspicious email delete them. Never click the link. If you are even a little bit suspicious you should right-click the link and check that the destination address (URL) at least looks like it goes where it should. (which is sometimes hard to tell.)
I'd like to pass on another warning that I know of...especially for your home computers. It's called Rogue Software:
You may receive a notice from a software company offering Antivirus Software. It may claim that it has done a preliminary scan of your PC and has found evidence of a virus. You can do a "Free" scan to check for sure. You run the free scan and sure enough it finds one or more viruses on your PC. Now all you have to do is buy the "Virus Cleaner" and it will remove the virus it found from your PC. The problem is...there is no virus and it's all a scam. In the end they have spyware on your PC AND your credit card number AND possibly any personal information that was on your PC.
Some names to watch out for are XP Antivirus 2008 (or 2009), ErrorSafe, SystemDoctor and PCCleanPro. There are many, many others. (one site online lists 93 different known rogue software apps.)
The bottom line is this: Purchase and install a PC protection package from a known company such as Symantic, McAfee, Sophos, Trend, Computer Associates (CA), F-Secure, etc. They will cost a bit more but are worth it. Keep up with your subscription once you purchase a protection application. Beware of deals that seem to be too good to be true.