Sunday, December 02, 2007

PayPal E-mail Tips

Last Friday I was on hold with PayPal for a bit too long, and rather than listening to music, I got to hear them talk up their services. Along with mentioning their latest products, they mentioned some security tips. Specifically, what you should do if you get an e-mail from PayPal.

Tip 1 - PayPal won't ask for you person details in e-mail. This is good to know - if you get a message from PayPal asking for your password or social security number, you know it's automatically a fake. The only problem with this advice is that these nasty, technically known as phishing, e-mails look so dang real. It's hard not to trust something that looks so official. But don't.

Tip 2 - Not sure if an e-mail is valid? Send it to to check on it. Good news, you don't need to bother your 12 your old niece to ask if an e-mail is OK to respond to or not. You can just forward the message to PayPal and ask them directly.

Tip 3 - Does the message start off with Dear <your name or business>? If not, it's almost certainly spam/phishing. This is a clever litmus test for these e-mails. What was once a marketing trick to make e-mails seem friendly is now a useful security check. The fact is, spammers or phishermen (or phisherwomen) don't know any details about the people they are sending messages to, so they can't send customized e-mails. They send them out to Dear PayPal User or some such generic recipient. If your mail message isn't customized for your, then it's probably not kosher. Still, the above tips still hold. Though this is an easy test to use whenever dealing with any questionable e-mail.

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