Debunking email hoaxes and exposing Internet scams since 2003!


Hoax-Slayer Logo Hoax-Slayer Logo

DividerDivider
Home    About    New Articles    RSS Feed    Subscriptions    Contact
DividerDivider
Bookmark and Share







Western Union Unauthorized Transaction Phishing Scam

Outline
Email claims that money transfer service Western Union has noticed unauthorized transactions on the recipient's credit card and instructs him or her to fill in an attached form in order to verify identity and payment details.



Brief Analysis
The email is not from Western Union and the claims about unauthorized credit card transactions are a lie. The message is a phishing scam designed to steal credit card details. Information entered into the attached form can be collected by Internet criminals and used for credit card fraud.

Bookmark and Share
Detailed analysis and references below example.



Scroll down to submit comments
Last updated: 9th March 2010
First published: 9th March 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example:
Subject: Notice from WesternUnion© : Access to sensitive part of your online account has been suspended.

Dear customer, Thank you for using the Western Union Money Transfer®. As part of our security measures, we regularly screen activity in the banking system. During a recent screening, we noticed an issue regarding your credit card account. It may have been accessed by an unauthorized third party.

As a precaution, we are requesting additional verification of your identity and payment information in order to protect your credit card against future unauthorized transactions.

Please download the attachments below and complete the requested information. The situation will be immediately reviewed by the fraud department and we will remove any holds on this account.

© 2001-2010 The Western Union Company. All Rights Reserved

Attached Form:

Western Union Scam Form




Detailed Analysis
This email, which purports to be from international money transfer service, Western Union, claims that the recipient's credit card account may have been accessed by an unauthorized third party. It informs the recipient that the compromised account has therefore been suspended as a security measure. The email instructs the recipient to open an attached form and submit Western Union login details and credit card information as a means of verifying his or her account and identity. Supposedly, once these details have been submitted and reviewed by Western Union's "fraud department" the account suspension will be lifted.

However, the email is not from Western Union and the claim that unauthorized credit card transactions have been detected is untrue. In fact, the email is a phishing scam designed to steal login and credit card details from unsuspecting Internet users. Those who open and fill out the attached form as instructed in the email will actually be sending their login information and credit card details directly to Internet based criminals. Once the criminals have collected this information, they can then make fraudulent transactions using the victim's credit card account. They can also logon to the victim's real Western Union account and use it for fraudulent activities at will.

In an increasingly common ploy, the scammers have included the bogus web form as an HTML email attachment rather than directing victims to a fake website via links in the message. When the email attachment is opened, the bogus form is loaded into the user's web browser. If the user then enters the requested details and clicks the "Submit" button, the scammers will receive a copy of all the details provided. By using HTML attachments rather than links, the criminals are hoping to avoid the increasingly sophisticated phishing scam filters that come with modern web browsers and computer security software.

Internet users should be very cautious of any unsolicited email that requests them to provide personal and financial details, either via links in the message or via email attachments. Legitimate companies, including Western Union, are very unlikely to request customers to provide information via such methods. If you need to access an online account, the safest course of action is to open your web browser and type in the account's website address directly. Do not fill in and submit forms that are included in email attachments. Do not click on links in emails that request you to provide personal or financial information via a web based form.

Read more information about Phishing Scams

Bookmark and Share
comments powered by Disqus

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