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e-Notes Vol. 3 No. 19

Warning: Email Phishing Alert


An unusually large number of Shell Point residents have reported receiving suspicious email messages within the past week, asking them to confirm, update, or verify their account data at companies with which they normally do business. They are asked to visit links given in the email message to confirm their personal information.

The “alarm bells” in your head should be ringing when you receive a message like this. Some of the fake messages appear to originate from corporations such as MSN.com, Microsoft, Disney, Best Buy, JP Morgan Chase, Capitol One, Marriott Rewards, Verizon, Kraft, Hilton Hotels, CitiBank, Walgreens, and the Home Shopping Network – the list goes on and on. These companies never send their users emails requesting personal information in this way.

This is a “phishing” scheme aimed at fooling you into giving your personal identifying information to someone you do not know. If you do what the message tells you to do (e.g., press on a link, or go to a certain Website), you will actually be linked to a spoof website where your details will be captured for cybercriminals to exploit. DON’T DO IT!

The large increase in these bogus email messages is apparently due to a recent security breach at Epsilon, a marketing and advertising company which sends over 40 billion emails per year on behalf of 2,500 clients. After obtaining this enormous cache of consumer names and email addresses through their breach at Epsilon, these criminals are flooding the Internet with fraudulent “phishing” emails.

Now is the time to be totally vigilant in your Internet and email practices. Do not fall prey to these criminals. Here is what we recommend:

-   If you want to shop online, do so by going directly to the retailer's website.

-   Do not use click-through links placed in emails, open attachments, respond to email-only offers, or provide personal information such as social security number, login data or passwords from any email request.

-   Delete these suspicious messages immediately.


Jim Plummer
Computer College Steering Committee

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