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Man in fishing boatA number of readers were surprised to learn about phishing, and more than one suggested that I send the example to eBay. Actually, I am quite confident that eBay is on top of this issue. I suspect they scan continuously to find eBay fraud of all kinds — including phishing emails. eBay is an incredibly large and successful community for buyers and sellers and they have thought through all the aspects of the buying and selling processes. Any inhibitor to the growth of the community is something they are responsive too. Unfortunately, it is a constant battle to stay ahead of the fraudsters. Bob Safier shared with me an amazing fraudulent email that he received.

In addition to the basic fraud attempting to get personal information, this one represents an attempt to look official. They all have a seemingly assuring emblem and user-friendly text.

phishing image

The message also provides an option to report the spammer by e-mail. This is an obvious technique to confirm the unsuspecting complainer’s address. Bob says, "You have to give them credit for being at least partially honest in that the sender claims to be a member of the SPAMMING Bureau — they don’t say ANTI-Spamming"

The bottom line is to be increasingly careful. Anti-virus and anti-spam are not enough. Anti-spyware is not enough. Hardware and software firewalls are not enough. All of these are essential but the other ingredient is common sense. Look at your email carefully. Even if the "from" address is one you recognize, look also at the context. Ask yourself if the email content is something you were expecting, that you understand, or at least makes sense. Look especially hard at attachments and hyperlinks before taking action. If it isn’t something you were expecting, my advice is don’t click and don’t open.