Wednesday, January 04, 2006

:::.... I am going to write about an experience I had today so that what happened to me will not happen to you or anyone you know.

Today I checked my Yahoo account (which I use exclusively for ebay transactions) to find an email from PayPal. The subject line read: Payment Received To electronewage@hotmail.com. I thought to myself, I didn't send payment to anyone. I opened the email which informed me that a payment of $370 was sent for an "iPod 60G - Like New!" Apparently through ebay.

What the fuck!!!? Did I accidentally bid on and win a 60 gig iPod? I had bid on an iPod case a week before. Shit, shit, shit! No I didn't... Somebody has hacked into my PayPal account!

I quickly went into panic mode. My heart was pounding. I scanned the rest of the email and just before opening a new window to log into PayPal, I found a link that would take me straight to the claims page of PayPal. I clicked on it and quickly began filling in the blanks provided to dispute the purchase. I stopped typing at the box asking for my pin number. At that moment a gigantic red flag went up. Why would they ask for my pin? I looked up at the URL which included the more obvious, "my-paypal account" in it.

Oh shit!...Why am I sitting here frantically re-entering data they already have? I closed the browser and got offline. I was shocked at how authentic the email and website looked and distraught over how close I had come to handing over my senstive account information. When I called my bank they said since I didn't actually send the information by hitting 'OK' or 'submit' I should be perfectly fine. Paypal had a totally different opinion and advised me to close my bank account and change my password at once. Apparently it is possible for the thieves to monitor your keystrokes and put together the information without you actually sending it.

I can't believe I fell for this. I'm the one always lecturing my mother to watch out for these things. Everyone knows that institutions will not contact you to verify your information periodically for no apparant reason, but this was different. It was meant to play on your emotions. Alarm, anger, and confusion so that you act quickly and irrationally. And it worked. Sort of.

Be warned. They're getting smarter everyday.

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