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Security & privacy

New phishing scam targets PayPal users

For a while now PayPal has been one of the go-to ways in which we can transfer money digitally. Most of us have plenty of confidence in its security, though we understand there will be instances where things happen and our settings must be updated or changed.

We never know when that will happen, however, which is why we rely on PayPal to let us know when something is up and needs to be done. That usually comes in the form of an alert or email, which leaves the door open for some issues.

Like the one PayPal users are facing now, as scammers are trying to convince them to load malware onto their devices. The way they are going about it makes this even tougher to combat.

It starts with an email

Like many phishing scams, this one is effective because it does not have the appearance of anything abnormal. PayPal users receive an email from an address “” with the subject of “PayPal account warning,” which certainly garners attention.

The email, which is meant to look like an official document, has a Word document attached that, once opened, unleashes malware onto your computer. So far it appears the malware only impacts Windows PCs.

Apple, iPhone and Android users are not affected, even if they open the bad email, and it is not yet known how many people have been targeted.

There are multiple versions

Sometimes the scam will involve a Word document, while others will present a link it asks you to click on. As for its reasoning for being sent, that could be an “account warning,” as already mentioned, or possibly a notice of a payment sent to someone or an alert that your account was logged into from an unknown device.

The email doesn’t look right

While the address it comes from seems legitimate and the title itself is innocuous, the message contained provides some clues as to its illegitimacy. One example begins with, “Greetings, dear Client! please! We noticed a lot of frauds performed by machinations with online services of the accounts of our clients.”

Between the punctuation, grammar and word choice it should be apparent that the message was not, in fact, sent by PayPal.

Other instances show the email being sent to multiple addresses via CC and not Bcc, which means you can see the addresses. PayPal would not do that, either.

How to protect against phishing attacks:

It’s important to remember that this has nothing to do with PayPal, which means there is not a whole lot they can do to stop it. The emails are trying to take advantage of people who are not paying attention, which is why you want to keep these tips in mind:

  • Be cautious with links – If you get an email or notification that you find suspicious, don’t click on its links. It could be a phishing attack. It’s always better to type a website’s address directly into a browser than clicking on a link.
  • Do NOT enable macros – You should never download PDF, Word or Excel files attached to unsolicited emails to begin with. If you do open one of these documents and it says that you need to turn on macros, close the file and delete it immediately.
  • Watch for typos – Phishing scams are infamous for having typos. If you receive an email or notification from a reputable company, it should not contain typos. Take our phishing IQ test to see if you can spot a fake email.
  • Use unique passwords – Many people use the same password for multiple websites. This is a terrible mistake. If your credentials are stolen on one site and you use the same username and/or password on others, it’s simple for the cybercriminal to get into each account. Click here to find out how to create hack-proof passwords.
  • Set up two-factor authentication  Two-factor authentication, also known as two-step verification, means that to log in to your account, you need two ways to prove you are who you say you are. It’s like the DMV or bank asking for two forms of ID. Click here to learn how to set up two-factor authentication.
  • Check your online accounts  The site Have I Been Pwned allows you to check if your email address has been compromised in a data breach.
  • Have strong security software – Having strong protection on your gadgets is very important. The best defense against digital threats is strong security software. App background

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