Yup...they got me!
ME! A computer expert who harps about security and how you should NEVER, EVER click links in an email. I clicked an email link! <head hung low>
In this article, I'll tell you exactly what happened to cause me to be caught off guard. Yes, I will totally embarrass myself for the sake of your safety. If they can get ME, they can get you. So stay vigilant!
I confess! I'm an eBay newbie. I'm just not a shopper. I know...it's shocking that a female isn't interested in shopping. But it's true. I shop for what I need, or the few treats for my family and pets, but I'm not a big shopper. And I only sell my Tech Courses via my web site, so I'm not out there selling things on eBay. I've only rarely ventured to the eBay site. (http://www.ebay.com)
At the end of last year I brought home a new kitten for Greg's birthday and also as a pal for Greg's 17 yr old kitty, who missed his feline pals who left when our daughter moved out with them in tow.
I have always wanted to get the cats a kitty condo. But I couldn't afford hundreds of dollars for a pile of shag carpeting and cardboard. Somehow I stumbled across a few on eBay and realized you can get great deals from the same companies who sell items at retail prices! Kitty condos run hundreds of dollars for simple ones.
Through ebay, I managed to get a very cool, four story cat condo for just under $90. Amazing! It would have cost me over $300 at a retail pet supply site! A week later it arrived and Greg had it all setup. The cats love it!
Okay, so I became a convert! I was excited about the possibilities of getting merchandise for a low cost on eBay, while the rest of the world paid full price!
Mom went to Florida and left my fine-feathered sibbling, Peg, the near 50 year old Amazon parrot, with us. I grew up with Peg. But I hadn't paid much attention to her for years. A couple months with her hanging over me while I was at the computer and I remembered why she was so cool. And the fact that she learned to bark like a dog while she was hanging out with the Barker Gang, just made her that much cooler.
Peg spent her life in a typical parrot cage. Nothing too exciting...not too big. Mom let her out often to hang out with her without bars, but I felt Peg needed more in her senior years. As an 86th birthday present to mom, I wanted her best friend since dad died 30 years ago, Peg the parrot, to have a cool house. But those big parrot cages cost a small fortune and I couldn't afford $600 for a parrot cage.
However, now I had eBay on my side!
I started searching for a suitable cage for Peg. I found a great one. One I'd seen on many pet sites for about $500, plus shipping. I could get this one purchased and sent here for under $180. I was excited! I put in my request...but they said my account was void!
I'd only ever used it once. I bought a cat condo. I paid full price within 30 seconds of winning the auction! Why would my account not work!
I thought about it.
Recently, just as I was hunting down Peg's new home, I did get an email from some goofball seller at eBay telling me that I had bid on some TV with them and if I didn't pay up, they would report me and I'd be in big trouble! Not wanting to get busted because maybe I made a dumb mistake and bid on something in error, I...CLICKED THE LINK IN THE EMAIL! (What an I-D-I-O-T, I am!<sigh>)
(Note, the sample image of the phishing email here is just another of the same that I got later. I was so upset about the original one that got me, I deleted it without thinking about saving it for evidence. I'm still getting these, but...of course...I have learned my lesson the hard way, now!<sigh>)
Yup, I was so worried that my possible mistake might cause me to be tossed out of the eBay realm and not be able to get Peg her wonderful new home that I didn't remember my own CONSTANT advice of NOT ever, never, ever clicking a link in an email to log into a secure site!
I clicked the link. It went to my normal ebay login (or so I thought because I was NOT paying attention!) and like a total fool...I entered my user name and password. I answered the email and told them I never bid on their TV and innocently apologized if I caused any confusion.
I'm sure I could have heard the identity thieves laughing from here had I been paying attention!<sigh>
<banging her head on the desk > You IDIOT!
Now I realized why my account was void...or rather why my password didn't work! I clicked a link in an email and went to what I thought was a legit site and S-T-U-P-I-D-L-Y entered my user name and password. Yes, this was a spoofed email and bogus site and I just gave a theif my user name and password to my ebay account!
Thankfully, my eBay account was NOT linked to any personal credit cards. I use PayPal, so I was safe! In order for them to get any funds through my eBay account, they would also need to access my PayPal passworded account. And I've been a PayPal member for a long time...so I have no problem keeping that account secure because I NEVER, EVER believe any emails asking me to enter my PayPal info.
I was just taken totally off guard with the eBay email. I didn't know how messages were sent from eBay and didn't realize that this was a phishing site! (Pronounced FISHING and means they are waiting for you to enter your pass codes into fake, but very real looking web duplicates sites to capture your pass info!)
Geez! I'm a computer professional. I've been using the web even before it was the web. I was on the Internet in the early 90s. I know better. Yet, because I was foolishly not being vigilent and not paying attention due to my excitement about getting Peg her cage and worried I'd made some newbie mistake to mess up my chance to get the cage...I allowed myself to commit the dumbest newbie mistake...I clicked a link in an email and entered my user/pass info into the resulting web site. Hey, it looked legit. Sheesh...I should have my computer license taken away!
As they say in the tech world. "Put down the mouse and slowly back away from the computer!"
<big sigh> What a fool! Thank goodness I used PayPal rather than credit cards on the web! PayPal offers secure passworded access and temporary credit card numbers for shopping. So I was safe and they didn't get any money from me. Granted, my original eBay account was trashed...they now owned that one.
But once I realized what I'd done and stop beating myself up about it, since I realized they couldn't get any money from me or access any financial accounts, I created a new account and got back to bidding on Peg's cage. Peg got her beautiful new condo to live out the rest of her life in comfort and mom is thrilled to see Peg enjoying her new space.
Funny how little Peg looks in all that new space and mom can easily wheel her up to the patio so Peg can call out to the falcons that fly around outside. (We have a family of Peregrine Falcons who live in a tree across the alley and fly by mom's patio windows while hunting pigeons and rodents in Chicago.)
So thankfully, we're no less for the torment of identity theft, but it could have been much worse! The bottom line is that even an expert can be easily taken by these @#$%^! if you're not paying attention! So PAY ATTENTION.
NEVER, EVER, EVER click a link in any email to go to any account to enter your user name and password to access your info!
If you get ANY email that looks like it might be legit and advises you of something that you might need to handle...close the email and access the site as you normally would. If the email was legit, the site will have duplicate information for you.
As it turned out, I did contact eBay to ask if the email was legit, explaining that someone was saying they were planning to file a complaint about me when I was pretty sure I hadn't done anything wrong. I was informed that it was a phishing email and that any REAL emails would be posted to my account via normal access means and that eBay would not email me directly.
Hell, I knew that. I've already told you that any legit company worth their beans would NEVER email you and tell you to enter your info...even if it said your account is about to be deleted. It's just a ploy and you should ignore it. So where the heck was my brain when I clicked that link and entered my private code?
It was with Peg and I was worried that I'd messed up and might not be able to get her her new home because I made a foolish mistake. But my newbie fears caused me to commit an even bigger mistake!
I can only hope my stupidity helps save you from the same dumb move!