It’s no surprise for consumers to receive notices of “unusual account activity” these days.
Obviously, service providers are making account security a top priority so they regularly send out these types of letters after learning of a data breach that affected their customer base.
Donald G. recently received an e-mail from his cell phone provider warning him of some suspicious activity on his account.
The letter directly addressed the issues of unusual activity on his “online account.”
Chances are, you’ve probably received a similar e-mail and simply deleted it if you didn’t actually use the specific cell phone provider or you just assumed it was a scam.
Now, Donald didn’t simply write off the notice as being a scam and he read the entire letter twice.
The notice included a paragraph that said Donald’s username and password had been stolen.
By the time he was done, Donald believed the letter was legitimate, so he decided to call his cell phone provider.
The customer service representative told Donald that someone had gone into one of the cell phone carriers retail locations and attempted to access his account.
The representative told Donald the specific store location and it was nowhere near where he lived.
Luckily, the cell phone carrier detected the suspicious activity and reset the passwords on Donald’s account preventing the criminal from gaining access.
Most likely, the person who was trying to access Donald’s information was attempting to purchase phones that would go onto Donald’s account.
The way the scam works is that criminals go into the retail location, typically with a fake ID, and request to upgrade the customer’s mobile phone.
Next, they walk out of the store with a new phone that is paid for on the victim’s account.
Thankfully, Donald’s cell phone provider noticed the suspicious activity and was able to secure the account from fraudulent activity.
If you’re like a lot of people, you’ve probably received untold numbers of e-mails alerting you to unusual or fraudulent activity on some sort of account.
The big question is, how do you respond or react, without falling victim to some scam?
Here are some ideas to keep in mind next time you receive a possible legitimate e-mail alerting you to suspicious activity.
Identify if its legit. Most folks know the tell-tale signs of a fraudulent or phishing e-mail such as misspelling or the fact you may not even have an account with the company who sent the e-mail.
Another thing to check is the sender’s e-mail address. For instance, an e-mail from Capitol One should come from @CapitolOne.
In addition, if the e-mail asks for you to send any payment or personal information definitely don’t do it.
Pick up the phone. As Donald did, if you suspect the e-mail might be legitimate you should immediately pick up the phone and call the company directly.
Of course, don’t call the number in the e-mail, but rather look up the phone number yourself.
Explain to the customer representative that you received an e-mail about possible suspicious activity and you want to verify the e-mail is real and that your account is secure.
Do your own detective work. If you receive an e-mail that you think is real, do an internet search looking for similar e-mails from the same company.
For example, you could do an internet search asking, “Comcast account compromised e-mail.”
This way you can examine other e-mails that people may have received that could be legitimate.
Along the same lines, you may have victims who have posted the e-mail saying the specific e-mail you received is a scam.
Log into the account. After receiving an e-mail about unusual account activity, you should attempt to login to the account to check things out.
What I mean is, if you try to log in but your password doesn’t work or if you’ve been completely blocked from the account, then you clearly know that something is wrong.
Now, make sure you never click on any link inside the suspicious e-mail, but that you login through your own web browser.
In addition, if you are able to log on, check out your account activity and make sure no one has made any purchases or changed any account information.
The thing is, if you’re like most people, you probably receive multiple spam e-mails each day that try to trick you into clicking on a link that will steal your personal information or download a virus to your computer.
However, you should always examine these e-mails because chances are, now and then you may receive a legitimate notice from a company you do business with.
Remember, make sure you never click on any links inside the e-mail, and always call the company after you’ve verified the phone number through another source.