Don’t open that e-mail from PayPal

Or your  bank for that matter. Or any other bank that appears to send you e-mail. While spam is down this year, phishing is up. “Phishing” is e-mail targeted at getting your account login credentials. The typical tactic is that the bad guy will send an e-mail purporting to be from your bank with all the logos and language to make it look official. Click on one of the links and you’ll be sent to a web site that LOOKS like your bank, but isn’t. You log in and now the bad guy has your login credentials. A minute later, you have no money in your account.

PayPal and some banks, however, are still sending out legitimate e-mails which include active links back to their sites. The same behavior we despise in these phishing e-mails. The best advice I can give you is to just never open an e-mail from PayPal or your bank unless you have a reason to expect it (such as a confirmation to an action you just performed). Even so, NEVER CLICK ON A LINK IN THE E-MAIL EVEN IF IT’S LEGITIMATE. If I were doing this in audio or video, I really would be shouting this out.

Seriously, though, while you might be able to recover the money to your account because of some insurance the bank has (most consumer accounts have legal protections against fraud, but check your bank to see what’s covered), if it’s a brokerage or business account, there is no protection under the law for this kind of thing. Even if you can recover the money, you have to go through a process and wait some time before you get it back.

Opening the e-mail is bad. Clicking on the link is “take you out back behind the woodshed” bad.  If you need to go to your bank’s or PayPal’s web site, just type the address into your browser each time.

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