Schemes & Rip Offs: Cyber Crooks Pose as American Express - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Schemes & Rip Offs: More Fake Email

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Last week we told you about a new email scam using fake billing emails from Verizon Wireless now we've got a warning for American Express card members.

Once again criminals are using the credit card company's logo, design and color scheme to create sophisticated fake emails looking to steal your personal and bank account information.

The notes say that your email address on file with AmExhas been changed.  It then provides links so you can fix the problem.  It also has "links" to contact customer service and view the privacy policy.

As you may have guessed those links actually lead to a third-party website that downloads a virus on your computer.

If you get one of the these fake emails:

1. Do not reply or click on the link in the email

2. Forward it to spoof@americanexpress.com

3. Delete it

With so many cyber crooks using real looking emails to try and fool the website "ComputerWorld" talked with an expert about some sure-fire ways to spot a fake.

Hover. Whatever you do, don't click on any of the links in the email, says Daniel Peck, a research scientist with Barracuda Networks. You can and should, however, point your mouse at them and hover over them.  Links that don't go to the legitimate domain of the business are telltale signs of phishing emails.

Copy and paste. If you can't see the URL where the links direct when you hover over them, Peck suggests copying and pasting the link into a Microsoft Word document. Right click on the pasted link and select "Edit Hyperlink" from the menu that appears. Selecting "Edit Hyperlink" will open a pop-up window in Word that shows in the "Address" field the web address to which the link directs.

Investigate the email's properties. Outlook users who have opened the suspicious email can go to the "File" tab and select "Properties." In the "Properties" pop-up window that appears, Peck says to look at the box at the bottom of the window labeled "Internet headers." This box shows the path the email took to reach the end-user, he says. "Look at the originating systems. If they're not from American Express, Constant Contact or other trusted email blast systems, those are tipoffs that it's a phishing email," he adds.

Act on information that you know for sure is trustworthy. If your bank or credit card company is sending you an email regarding a fraud alert, you ought to see that same fraud alert on your bank or credit card company's legitimate website, says Peck. If you're at all uncertain, Peck recommends calling the phone number on the back of your credit card. "Always work on information that you have a lot more reason to trust," he adds.

When in doubt, throw it out. The best defense against phishing scams, Peck says, is to assume the email is untrustworthy and to pursue direct channels to businesses that you trust, such as your bank's 1-800 number.

For more tips on how to avoid phishing scams, check out the Anti-Phishing Working Group's website.

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