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PayPal Billing Information Update Scam

Summary:
Email claims that the recipient's PayPal account will be suspended if billing information is not updated (Full commentary below).



Status:
False - The message is a phishing scam designed to steal personal information.

Example:(Submitted, May 2007)
Subject: Notification : Paypal Billing Department

Security Center Advisory

Your PayPal billing information is out of date and needs to be updated. If you could please take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience to update your billing information, you will not run into any future problems with the online service.

Failure to update your records will result in account suspension.

Once you have updated your account records, your PayPal session will not be interrupted and will continue as normal.

Update your records now click on the following link:
[Link to bogus website removed]

This new security issue will help us continue to offer PayPal as a secure and cost-effective payment service. We appreciate your cooperation and assistance.

If you chose to ignore our request, you leave us no chose but to temporally suspend your account.

Please do not reply to this email. This mailbox is not monitored and you will not receive a response. For assistance, log in to your PayPal account and choose the Help link located in the top right corner of any PayPal page.




Commentary:
This email message purports to be from online payment company PayPal and warns recipients that their account will be suspended if they do not update their account details. However, the message is not from PayPal but is instead part of a typical phishing scam designed to steal personal information.

A link in the scam email leads to a bogus website designed to look almost identical to a genuine PayPal login page. If a victim falls for this ruse and logs in, he or she will be asked to fill in an online web form that request sensitive personal and financial information including address details, a credit card number and a social security number. Like the login page, this bogus form looks almost exactly like a genuine PayPal web page complete with seemingly legitimate logos and site navigation elements. A screenshot of part of the bogus form is shown below:

Bogus Webform

All information entered into the form can be collected by scammers and used to conduct fraudulent transactions and commit identity theft.

The link in the scam email is disguised using HTML so that it looks like a genuine PayPal web address.

Phishing scammers regularly target high profile financial institutions such as PayPal. Be very caution of any unsolicited email that asks you to follow a link or open an attachment and provide personal details. PayPal has information about phishing scams on its website.

For a more detailed analysis of phishing scams, see:
Phishing Scams - Anti-Phishing Information

References:
Check Links in HTML Emails
PayPal: Phishing Guide
Phishing Scams - Anti-Phishing Information

Last updated: 17th May 2007
First published: 17th May 2007

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen