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BT Service Cancellation Notice Phishing Scam

Outline
Email purporting to be from giant telecommunications services company BT claims that a recent bill payment has been rejected and warns that the recipient must follow a link and update details or the service will be cancelled.



Brief Analysis
The email is not from BT and the claim that a recent payment made by the recipient has failed is untrue. The email is an attempt to trick BT customers into visiting a bogus website and providing sensitive personal and financial details to Internet criminals.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.



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Last updated: 14th February 2011
First published: 9th December 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
Subject: BT Service Cancellation Notice.

Dear Customer,

This e-mail has been sent to you by BT 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.

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.

Regards,
BT Billing Department




Detailed Analysis
According to this email, which purports to be from giant telecommunications services company BT, the recipient's BT service may be cancelled if he or she does not follow a link and confirm and update billing information. The message claims that the BT Billing Department was unable to process a recent bill payment due to errors in the customer's account details. The message instructs the recipient to click a link in the message in order to rectify these errors and thereby avoid the cancellation of the account.

However, the email is not from BT and the claim that a recent payment has failed is a lie. The claims in the scam message are designed to trick customers into divulging their personal and financial information to Internet criminals. The link in the email opens a bogus website created to closely resemble a genuine BT web page. Both the email and the bogus website include the familiar BT logo in an effort to make them appear genuine.

Those who click the link in the scam email will be taken to a fake BT log in page as shown in the following screenshot:

Fake BT Log in Page

After they have entered their username and password and "logged in" to the bogus website, victims will then be redirected to a "billing confirmation form" that asks them to provide credit card details and other private information:

Fake BT Confirmation Page



Once they have submitted all of the requested information, a "Confirmation successfully completed" message will be displayed. Finally, victims will be redirected away from the scam website and taken to the real BT website.

All information, including log in details, entered on the bogus website can be harvested by scammers and subsequently used for credit card fraud and identity theft. Armed with the stolen log in details, the scammers can also access their victim's real BT account. Because the fake website takes victims back to the genuine BT site after it has stolen personal information, victims may not realize that they have been scammed until it is far too late.

Phishing scammers randomly send out hundreds of thousands if not millions of identical scam emails in the hope of reaping at least a few victims. Big companies such as BT are favoured targets for scammers because, with such a large customer base, a significant number of recipients are likely to be BT customers. BT has warned customers about such phishing attacks via an article on its website.

BT is certainly not the only telecommunications company that has been actively targeted by phishing scammers. In recent months, Australian telecommunications giant Telstra has also been repeatedly targeted in scams very similar to the BT version discussed here. Another telecommunications company, Optus, has also been targeted in several phishing campaigns.

Phishing scammers continually target many different service providers and financial institutions. Internet users should be very cautious of any emails that claim that they need to follow a link or open an attachment in order to update personal or financial information. Banks, service providers, government departments or legitimate companies are very unlikely to request personal information from customers via an unsolicited email.

Read more about Phishing Scams

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What is phishing? Is the email I have received genuine?
Telstra Bill Account Update Phishing Scam
Optus ADSL Service Cancellation Phishing Scam Email
Phishing Scams - Anti-Phishing Information

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Last updated: 14th February 2011
First published: 9th December 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer