WARNING! "Notification of Limited Account Access" is a PayPal Phishing Attempt!

Thursday, March 08, 2012 Stef dela Cruz 6 Comments

I received an email from PayPal that said, "Notification of Limited Account Access”. I actually believed it was a legit email from PayPal until I took a closer look! Below, I will tell you why I was (almost) duped by this phishing email.

notification of limited account access paypal

Why this PayPal phishing email almost duped me

I checked the email address of the sender; the email came from service@paypal.com. It wasn’t just a cloaked email with a fake name; no, it seemed to have come from PayPal (or did it?). I then proceeded to review the rest of the email. Here is the email sent to me:

Hello {your name here},

As part of our security measures, we regularly screen activity in the PayPal
system. We recently contacted you after noticing an issue on your account.

We requested information from you for the following reason:

A recent review of your account determined that we require some additional
information from you in order to provide you with secure service.

Case ID Number: {a series of letters and numbers here}

This is a second reminder to log in to PayPal as soon as possible. Once you log
in, you will be provided with steps to restore your account access.

Be sure to log in securely by using the following link:

Click here to login and restore your
account access


Once you log in, you will be provided with steps to restore your
account access. We appreciate your understanding as we work to ensure account
safety.

In accordance with PayPal's User Agreement, your account access will remain
limited until the issue has been resolved. Unfortunately, if access to your
account remains limited for an extended period of time, it may result in further
limitations or eventual account closure. We encourage you to log in to your
PayPal account as soon as possible to help avoid this.

To review your account and some or all of the information that PayPal used to
make its decision to limit your account access, please visit the Resolution
Center. If, after reviewing your account information, you seek further
clarification regarding your account access, please contact PayPal by visiting
the Help Center and clicking "Contact Us".

We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Please understand that
this is a security measure intended to help protect you and your account. We
apologize for any inconvenience.

Thanks,

PayPal Account Review Department

Please do not reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you
will not receive a response. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account
and click the Help link in the top right corner of any PayPal page.
----------------------------------------------------------------
Copyright © 1999-2012 PayPal. All rights reserved.
PayPal Email ID PP673-156-803

As you can see, the email had perfect grammar. Usually, phishing emails have such bad grammar that the attempt is very obvious. But in this case, it looks almost legit. So, what gave it away?

I took a look at the clickable links on the email. Even that looks almost legit as it starts with

http://www.paypal.com

But if you look at the rest of the URL, it actually says:

http://www.paypal.com.vuicir7c1mkhm.11macmvejqpq1vj16a843e2t4m6xg.com

Notice the final dotcom domain at the end of the link? The home page did NOT come from Paypal; it came from somewhere else!

You received a phishing email. What now?

The above Notification of Limited Account Access from PayPal seemed very legit. It is, to date, the best phishing attempt I have ever encountered. It even used my complete name to address me at the beginning of the email! But whenever you receive any email from websites that hold valuable information or your hard-earned money, here is what you should do:

  1. ALWAYS log on by typing the complete URL of the website you want to visit. DO NOT CLICK on links in your email, unless that email came from a trusted source and you were expecting it (such as confirmation emails from trusted websites that prompt you to click for confirmation). If an email from PayPal is asking you to log on, then type “www.paypal.com” in your browser instead of clicking on the links in your email.
  2. ALWAYS check that the URL of the website is legit. After the “dotcom” part of the PayPal URL, there should NOT be another dot, as is the case in the above phishing email. Instead, there should be a slash, indicating that you are indeed in the PayPal website, but that you are in one of their many pages. Besides, PayPal will ask you to log on via their main page, not through a URL that is so long that it should be a Guinness Record holder.
  3. DO NOT CLICK on links that you do not trust. Better yet, refer to tip number one.
  4. REPORT the phishing attempt and spread the word. As is the case in the phishing email I received, it looks like the brains behind the phishing attempt actually got a hold of my complete name. In other words, they might actually have gotten this information from a previous hacking attempt at PayPal or any other website that used your PayPal information. Let’s not take a backseat; when you receive a phishing email, do think of the millions of people who might have received that email, too. Do your part. If the phishing attempt is on PayPal, forward the phishing email to spoof@paypal.com.
  5. DO NOT think you’re not stupid enough to fall victim to phishing. It happens to the best of us, and believe it or not, there are many gullible people out there who will believe whatever you tell them – and they are all unaware that they are being duped. Well, that’s why they are duped in the first place, right?

The next time you receive an email Notification of Limited Account Access from PayPal, don’t be too happy to click on the cloaked links. Phishing attempts are getting classier by the minute. It’s always better to err on the side of caution; do a little sleuthing and protect yourself from identity theft and hacking.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She maintains a health column in Health.Care Magazine and contributes to The Manila Bulletin. Add her to your circles.

6 comments:

  1. thanks for sharing this. grabe, mukha nga legit. katakot!

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  2. thanks for the heads up.
    this is a very informative share. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you, everyone! I will make sure to post about other scams and security threats that I will encounter in the future. Here's a big MWAH to everyone!

    Stef of Life and Fever

    ReplyDelete
  4. YouTube tapos Paypal, it only shows na wala na talagang ligtaw ngayon sa mundo ng teknolohiya. Salamat Stef sa pag-warn mo sa amin :)

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  5. Using a legit email address is like the newest MO I've seen for phishing attempts! And thanks for sharing about the YouTube incident. Perhaps both PayPal and YouTube got hacked and someone is using their email servers. Hoooownoooh. >_<

    ReplyDelete

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