If it doesn’t seem right – it is probably wrong. The identity thieves depend on your gullibility.



By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  August 4, 2013.  One of the biggest problems we face as a society is the theft that takes place of money that is not in our wallets or purses.  Some call it identity theft; others call them scams – the result is usually the same – someone we don’t know, will never see, manages to convince us to give them information that allows them to take money out of our bank or from our credit cards.

They often get our money because we are greedy and think that there really is something for nothing waiting for us out there.  Do we really believe someone in Nigeria has millions of dollars they want to get out of that country and that they will give us a large portion of that money if we help them?  Some people do.

Does anyone not know someone who got sucked in by one of these schemes?  The thieves play upon our greed or our naivety to get us to part with information they need to get our money.

The Gazette is doing an ongoing series of articles on identity theft and how these thieves work to take advantage of us.

Read the notice I got carefully – what tells you this is a phony message designed to get me to give the sender information that would allow them to take money from my bank account.

I happen to bank with the Bank of Montreal.  Earlier today I got an email, sent to an address I seldom use.  It was an email from my bank – well let the following tell the story.

Why is my bank telling me about a payment?  And just what is a “pending status”.  It sounds kind of official.

The email tells me that I am required to verify something – online.  They use the words “secure verification link” but that’s just to make you feel confident.

There isn’t a bank in this country that is ever going to send you an email like this.

A bigger reason to be suspicious is in the Subject line.  “Receive your payment now”; that’s the kind of language advertisers use.

The people who send emails like this buy lists of names from other thieves online and then they send out tens of thousands of emails.  It doesn’t cost them a dime to send the email.

If one ploy doesn’t work – they will try another.

This was a really direct attempt to get information.  Banks do customer satisfaction surveys but they don’t use email and they don’t offer money if you do the survey.  $378. is far more than any survey company will ever pay for participating.  The best you’re going to get is a gift card for maybe $20.

This one was pretty blunt and played on that little bit of greed we all have in us.  I didn’t download this one – it would have taken me to a web site that could do very serious damage to the information on my computer.

It would have given them access to all my contacts and might have permitted the sender to install software on my computer that could capture every keystroke I entered.

This type of data theft is particularly vicious – but that $368 looks tempting to some people.

What can you do to protect yourself?  Common sense and remember – if it looks to good to be true – that’s because it isn’t true.

This is one of an ongoing series the Gazette will be doing on Identity Theft as part of an effort to make our readers more aware of what might show up in your email inbox one day.


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