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Issue 112 - March 2011 - Page 27

Telstra Bill Account Update Phishing Scam

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Email purporting to be from Australian telecommunications provider, Telstra, claims that the company has detected a billing error or was unable to process a recent payment and the recipient is therefore required to click a link and update billing information or risk interruption to service.

Brief Analysis
The email is not from Telstra and the claim that there is a problem with a payment is untrue. The message is a phishing scam designed to trick Telstra account holders into supplying personal and financial information to Internet based criminals.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

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Last updated: 21st February 2011
First published: 19th July 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer

(Submitted, February 2011)
Subject: Your Telstra Internet e-Billing and payment service

Attention! Security Update

Dear Valued Customer,

During our regularly scheduled account maintenance and verification procedures, we have detected a slight error in your billing information. This might be due to either of the following reasons:
1. A recent change in your personal information ( i.e.change of address).
2. Submiting invalid information during the initial sign up process.
3. An inability to accurately verify your selected option of payment due to an internal error within our processors.

Please update and verify your information by clicking the link below: [Link removed]

If your account information is not updated within 48 hours then your ability to access your account will become restricted.

Telstra BigPond
Billing Department
Thanks for your co-operation.

(Submitted, July 2010)
Subject: Telstra Bill - Account Update Needed

Dear Customer,
This e-mail has been sent to you by Telstra BigPond to inform you that we were unable to process your most recent payment of bill.This might be due to either of the following reasons:

1. A recent change in your personal information. (eg: billing address, phone)
2. Submitting incorrect information during bill payment process
3. An inability to accurately verify your selected option of payment due to an internal error within our processors.

Due to this, to ensure that your service is not interrupted, we request you to confirm and update your billing information today by clicking here. If you have already confirmed your billing information then please disregard this message as we are processing the changes you have made. Kind regards,
Telstra BigPond Billing Department, 2010. All rights reserved

Detailed Analysis
This email, which purports to be from Australian telecommunications giant, Telstra, informs the recipient that the company was unable to process a recent bill payment. The email claims that, unless the account holder follows a link in the message to confirm and update billing information, his or her Telstra service may be interrupted. The email arrives complete with the Telstra logo and a seemingly genuine Telstra sender address.

However, the email is certainly not from Telstra and the information about a payment problem is a lie. In reality, the email is a phishing scam designed to trick Telstra customers into handing over their personal and financial information to Internet criminals. The link in the phishing scam email is disguised to make it appear that it leads to the genuine Telstra site. The sender address of the email is also disguised in such a way that it appears to have originated from Telstra.

The following screen shots illustrate how the scam works.

When a recipient clicks on the link on the scam email as instructed, he or she is taken to the website shown in this screen capture:

Telstra Phishing Scam Login Page

If a victim enters the requested login details and clicks the "Next" button, he or she will then be taken to the following online form:

Telstra Phishing Scam Bogus Web Form

If the victim supplies all of the requested information and again clicks the "Next" button, he or she is taken to a final "Confirmation" message:

Telstra Phishing Scam Bogis Confirmation Page

The phishing website uses Telstra logos, graphics and formatting to make it appear more genuine to potential victims. Once a victim reaches the final "confirmation" page shown in the above screenshot he or she is automatically redirected to the real Telstra website, which furthers the illusion that the bogus web pages are part of the company's genuine site.

All information, including login details, entered on the bogus web pages can be collected by criminals and used for credit card fraud and identity theft.

During a phishing attack, scammers will send out many thousands of such bogus email messages. Given Telstra's extensive customer base throughout Australia, many recipients will hold a Telstra account, for fixed phone or mobile service and/or for Internet service via Telstra BigPond. Thus, even if only a handful of the large number of Telstra customers that are likely to receive this scam email actually fall for the ruse and supply the requested information, the scam will pay off very well for these scammers.

Telstra (or BigPond) will never send customers unsolicited emails requesting them to provide financial and personal information via links in the message. Phishing is a very common type of scam that targets customers of many companies and financial institutions all around the world. If you receive any unsolicited email from a company or other institution that asks you to click an included hyperlink or open an attached file and provide sensitive personal information, then you should view the message with the utmost suspicion. If you have any doubts at all about the veracity of the email, contact the institution directly to check. Never click on a link in an email in order to access the website of a bank or other institution that may be the target of scammers. The safest method is to manually enter the URL of the institution's website into your browser's address bar.

Bookmark and Share References
Phishing Scams - Anti-Phishing Information
Phishing in the Big Pond
Telstra: What types of Telstra and BigPond hoax emails are currently circulating?

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Issue 112 Start Menu

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  27. Telstra Bill Account Update Phishing Scam