Odd Thoughts: Phishing ultimately flounders

My phone made a sound like something was dropped into a mailbox made out of an old pail.

In the pail was a receipt for a video game, which the senders of said email hoped I was was enjoying to the fullest.

But I hadn’t bought any video games… to my knowledge, at least.

Had I accidentally clicked on something while browsing the Internet? Had I downloaded something without realizing it?

The cost of the game was just under $40. But… I had not purchased any such thing. Had I?

Oh no! Now my mind was racing. I slipped into semi-panic mode.

Was my iTunes account hacked? Was someone buying stuff and charging it to me?

Why would they buy something so small? Why only $40? Surely such a clever thief could do better than a paltry $40!

I scanned the email again and noticed: if I had not made the purchase, I should click on the link below and immediately inform the people at Apple so they could fix it.

So, right away… I did NOT click the link.

My first reaction was exactly what the authors of the email had hoped. They wanted me to panic and click on the link without thinking.

Instead, I switched to my web browser and started typing “itunes email receipt…”

For this sort of stuff, Google is amazing. If you’re suspicious that you’re being had for a patsy, pick a few pertinent words and let your browser do the rest. I didn’t even finish typing when I had my answer: I was on the wrong end of a phishing expedition. The email was a scam.

Nobody had my banking or iTunes account information. But if I had clicked on the link, I would have been invited to answer a series of questions aimed at robbing me blind.

The iTunes Store does not ask for sensitive personal or financial information, such as passwords and account numbers.

If you do click on an email link, make sure the web address you get to makes sense. The site might look right – it’s part of what makes a fraud effective – but if the address doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t.

The older we are, the less likely we are to understand this stuff, and the more likely we are to act hastily… playing right into the bad guys’ hands.

So if something doesn’t look right, don’t panic. Take a bit of time to think. If you’re up to it, ask Google for help.

Or just find someone under 20 to explain it to you.



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