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Everyone uses email which is why emails from identity thieves posing as your email provider are a constant threat. Below is a copy of an email that I recently received from an identity thief. DO NOT CLICK ON ANY OF THE LINKS. This phony email follows a familiar pattern. It indicates that there is an emergency that requires my immediate action. The emergency may relate to an unpaid bill or a security problem or as indicated in the phony email below, a termination that I did not request. The identity thief counts on the victim to react emotionally and immediately click on the links provided. If you do click on the links one of two things can occur and both of them are bad. The first is that you are asked for information such as your email address, credit card number or other personal information that is then used to make you a victim of identity theft. This is called “phishing” when you are lured to a phony website that gathers information from you. The second thing that can happen is even more insidious. By clicking on the link, you may unwittingly download a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of the information from your computer including your Social Security number, password, credit card numbers and banking information. The identity thief will then use this information to make you a victim of identity theft.
Here is a copy of the phony email I received.
Dear AOL Customer,
You submitted a request to terminate your AOL Mail Account and the process has started by our AOL Mail Team, Please give us 3 working days to close your AOL Mail Account.
To cancel the termination request click http://cancel.mail.aol.
All folders contains on your AOL Mail Account including (Inbox, Sent, Spam, Trash, Draft, Folders) will be deleted and access to your AOL Mail Account will be Denied.
If you wish to terminate your present AOL Mail Account, you can Sign Up for a new AOL Mail Account by clicking. http://edit.aol.com/
For further help please contact support
AOL customers have been receiving an email that purports to be from the “AOL Verification Team,” the first sentence of which reads exactly as follows: “This E-mail been sent to you by the AOL Verification Team to inform you that your account will be deactivated within the next 24 hours due to several unsuccessful log in attempt on your account.” The email then sends you to a link to click on in order to prevent this from happening. This email message is a scam and if you click on the link you will download a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of the personal information from your computer and make you a victim of identity theft.
This email scam is extemely amateurish. It is addressed to “Dear Customer” rather than the recipient’s name. Although it purports to be from AOL Account Services, the email address from which it comes is a person’s name at earthlink.net. It is certainly doubtful that AOL would use Earthlink for emails. In addition, the grammar is atrocious. Finally, when AOL contacts you on official matters it uses what it calls AOL Certified Mail which comes in the form of a blue envelope in your inbox and will have an AOL seal on the border of the email. Whenever in doubt about a message that asks you to click on a link, call who the sender purports to be and confirm whether or not it is a scam. Finally, remember to keep your firewall and security software up to date.
Many people using AOL for email have been receiving legitimate looking, but phony emails purporting to be from AOL billing them for services. Sometimes the phony messages come in the form of phony pop-ups that ask for personal information such as your Social Security number for “verification purposes.” Either way, these are phony phishing scams merely looking to steal your money and your identity. Ignore them.
AOL uses what it calls AOL Certified Mail for actual communications which will come in the form of a blue envelope in your inbox and will have an AOL seal on the border of the email. AOL will never ask for your Social Security number although scammers and identity thieves will because this number is the key to identity theft. If you believe that an email communication from AOL or any other company may or may not be legitimate, go directly to the company at either its website or by telephone making sure that you use URLs and phone numbers that you know are accurate. Never trust a link in an email that may be phony. It can only lead to your downloading keystroke logging malware that can steal information from your computer and make you a victim of identity theft.