Consumer watchdog warns customers about insidious scams

The new scam is clearly targeting PayPal customers.Image: dpa/Felix Kästle

Money and shopping

Carla Hermel

Through so-called phishing emails, imaginary prizes, calls, letters or even in person: scams are everywhere. There are dozens of scams that criminals use to try and rob people of their money and sensitive information.

In the meantime, however, the tactics are becoming more insidious. New technologies allow even non-professionals to pretend to be almost completely authentic, such as a bank, without much effort. Most recently, customers of Sparkasse and ING-Bank have been affected, but service providers such as Deutsche Bahn have also been affected.

A scam targeting PayPal customers

PayPal has been targeted. How North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Center announced that a malicious phishing email message that appears to be genuine is now circulating. On the topic “Information on access to activities – Application status [Warnung] : There were some problems with your last accessed account,” scammers pretend to be PayPal.

PHOTOMONTAGE, computer key with the inscription Phishing *** PHOTOMONTAGE, computer key with the inscription Phishing

Fraudulent emails, also known as phishing.Image: imago images/Christian Ohde

In PayPal’s typical blue design, the text indicates that the account is restricted, as their own transactions must be protected. Therefore, “confirmation as an authorized user” is required to remove the limit again.

It says at the bottom that the verification process can take up to 48 hours. Next is a button labeled “Verify your account”.

ARCHIVE - May 12, 2022, Saxony, Dresden: ILLUSTRATION - A woman holds a smartphone with the logo of the PayPal payment service.  (stage scene) Online payment service Paypal wants to face a difficult ...

Paypal customers are exposed to phishing attempts.Image: dpa / Sebastian Kahnert

detect fraud in one detail

However, since the questionable sender address clearly indicates a phishing email, the Consumer Advice Center strongly advises against following the link. Clicking on such buttons often leads to further attempts at fraud and obtaining personal data. It is also uncertain whether it is a Trojan or something similar. Therefore, suspicious mail should ideally delete or move to spam folder.

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It’s often not easy to tell if it’s phishing. However, there are some signs and key points that can be used to uncover such a fraud attempt. The greeting is usually impersonal, and the reason for the email is often a threat or promise of prizes. Scammers even like to use the good faith of their victims and pretend that they are acting to protect security.

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