Thursday, November 8, 2012

False Messages: A warning...

Out soon in Paper

How many people does it take to write a best seller? How many of them will live to brag about it? In this dark novel of intrigue and deception the line between good guys and bad guys is blurred. Very blurred.

Question from C.M. Albrecht:  I was just looking at the new contract and one paragraph makes me nervous:
"A Note on web safety: Paypal is safe as long as you do not click on a line in any e-mail messages that may appear to come from Paypal, and then give your information. FOR YOUR OWN ON-LINE SAFETY, NEVER click on a line in ANY e-mail message no matter how well you know the purported sender. Never respond to an e -mailed request for ANY private information. Always go directly to your personal web account and log in to see and share your private information."

I would never give out my password to anyone for PayPal, but I didn't understand about the "clicking on a line". Does that mean any line at all in the body of a message?  I occasionally receive account update messages from PayPal and so on. 

Answer:  The problem is that just because it says it comes from PayPal, doesn't mean PayPal really sent it.  Plenty of crooks know how to set up counterfeit sites that ask for your information and that is where the line goes, not to PayPal at all.

Bogus messages are almost as common as people who were married to African Bank presidents and tell you if you'll only sent them $5000 they will see you get millions back.. People with Waaay too much time on their hands can copy all those logos, change  the return address to one they have registered (so all the info you enter for Paypal, goes straight to them instead), but they type PAYPAL in the "From" line so it looks like PP sent it,  and when you click on the link, it LOOKS like it went to the right place and all you have to do is enter your password and information and you will  find out all about your payment, etc.

Paypal does send a lot of  messages. When you receive "You've been PAID" message it's usually from them. But even so, I won't even click on the links in THEM. Most of the time  messages are Okay, but sometimes they may not be. And it's better NOT to take a chance, because most of us have no way to tell if we are being tricked. If they tell me I have received a payment. I go to the Paypal site and sign in, and look to see who sent it.  I NEVER click on the link in the message.

People can do this with your credit cards, too. Sometimes they will ask you to sign in and check whether someone else might have charged something to your account.

When you get any message that is supposed to be from PAYPAL, or any other payment entity, even your credit card companies, ALWAYS go to the original web site FIRST and sign in THERE  rather than clicking on the link in the message.  

 It can be so easy to click that line, but sometimes crooks set up false messages and places for you to sign in that look JUST LIKE IT'S REAL. That way they can get your info when you enter it and have access to your bank account. Most people will click the line and never suspect a thing.

If you see your account, you're safe. But if nothing  happens -- well, By Then it might be too late. 

These are the kind of Pirates that are 50 times more dangerous than those who try to sell our books without paying for them. That is why I put the CAUTION information right in the contract. Nothing there obligates anyone to deal with PayPal. It's a personal choice for any author.  BUT everyone should be aware of how many ways scammers can use e-mail messages to get information.

I have a couple of authors who are conVINCED that Paypal ripped them off and one who finally admitted that she wrote the password down on a piece of paper she kept under her a house where three teenagers were living and having their friends over every other nigiht! So I thought it was important to caution everyone when I recommended they use the service as a payment method.

This False Message thing has been going on for years and most folks are aware that it can happen, but newbies, and even some old-timers, should always be careful never to click on a link in an e-mail.  They can type any name or address they want to on the From: line and the message appears to come form some perfectly innocent person.

I do business on the net. I get between 100 and 250 messages a day. So this happens to me a lot more often than to most folks. I get 10 or so messages A DAY with just a link in, either from places where I do business, or from someone I know where the subject line says: Take a Look and Tell ME What YOU Think! I know immediately that the person I know didn't send it. I never click on them, no matter how well I know the sender. I have even gotten Some that said they were from MY OWN e-mail address.

When that happens I always post it here, so folks will know if they get such a message that says it came from ME, it DIDN'T!! 

Most of the folks on the Internet are wonderful people. YOU for instance, CM. Others can be -- well, not so nice. 


  1. I do not have a PayPal Account and I don't really want one, yet I get messages from "PayPal" telling me to check something on my account, which I totally ignore.

    Recently, I have also received email notifications from Banks, (I don't have accounts in), and even from apparent "official" FBI messages. When I get those messages, I simply email them to the banks involved, or the real FBI and let them handle it.

    This, of course, is in addition to the ones from Africa, or wherever the origin is. And always, there is the information list they want including name, address, email, Social Security Number and the name of the bank you use.

    Sometimes I can't help smiling about these messages, if they already have my email address and all those wonderful people who have passed included me as their Heir, why do they need all that information? Shouldn't they already have it, in order to contact me and advise me of my supposed inheritance? Some people would fall for this, so it is imperative that everyone NEVER give out that information on line. (I did once, and heard about it...Lesson learned).

  2. Thanks for the blog. This helps clarify the Internet mail business.

    Caveat lector ! in spades.

    Nobody gonna get my passwords because I can't even remember them myself. I have to ask my wife. :D