Protect Yourself from Fraudulent Emails

What is a fraudulent email?

A fraudulent (spoof) email pretends to be from a well-known company, such as PayPal or eBay, in an attempt to get personal information from you. People who send spoof emails hope to use your information - such as credit and debit card numbers or account passwords - to commit identity theft.

You can prevent spoof from affecting you

Spoof, or "phishing," emails - and the spoof websites often associated with them - are deceptive in appearance. However, they contain content that reveals they're fake. The most important thing to do to protect yourself is be able to spot misleading content.

What to watch out for

Generic greetings. Many spoof emails begin with a general greeting, such as: "Dear Company Member."

A false sense of urgency. Most spoof emails try to deceive you with the threat that your account is in jeopardy if you don't update it ASAP.

Fake links. The text in a link may look valid, then send you to a spoof address. Always check where a link is going before you click. Move your mouse over it and look at the URL in your browser or email status bar. I need to fix mine. If the link looks suspicious, don't click on it. And be aware that a fake link may even have the company name in it.

Questions companies should never ask you in an email

To help you better identify fake emails, companies are implementing and following strict rules. They should never ask for the following personal information in emails:

Credit and debit card numbers

Bank account numbers

Driver's License numbers

Email addresses


Your full name

Ways to fight spoof Report it.

Forward the entire email - including the header information - or the site's URL to They investigate every spoof reported. Please note that the automatic response you get may not address you by name.

Use Account Guard on the eBay toolbar. If you use Internet Explorer, download the eBay toolbar. Account Guard helps ensure you are on PayPal or eBay.

Download and Use a SafetyBar. Email security providers have engineered toolbars that work with your email software. You can type "SafetyBar" into our search engine and browse the web to select one that best suit your needs. Some come with a small fee.

We're dedicated to protecting you

Steps to take to prevent spoof from affecting you

Keep your security software current. Update your firewalls and security patches frequently. Consider using software from companies like McAfee and Symantec.

Monitor your account. Check your account periodically to see if there is any suspicious activity.

Change your password often. And, if you think your security may have been breached, create a new password immediately.

Use a unique password. Your password should be one-of-a-kind, and not used on any of your other accounts. A good password contains letters and numbers. This makes it more difficult for people to guess it.

Take action. If your information is compromised, get a fraud alert placed on your credit report.

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