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Phishing email alarms local woman

July 24, 2012 8:06:40 PM PDT
Seven On Your Side has alerted people before about phishing scams on the Internet where predators create websites that look like real companies. Now, it is getting harder to tell legitimate websites from the fakes.

Con artists send out millions of emails that look like they are from a real company. Consumers who happen to be customers of that company then customers, hopefully for the bad guy, fall for the scam. One woman recently got a fake bill for $10,000 and it's one that might show up in your email inbox.

"Frantic, definitely a good way to describe it," said Barbara Rowe of Novato.

Rowe spoke to us about the shocking email she received on a lazy Sunday morning.

"I had an email from Discover Card saying my statement was available online, but I don't have a Discover Card," said Rowe. She opened the email and panic grew. "It said there was a balance of $10,600 and some-odd dollars."

The email said she owed more than $10,000 and she had to make a minimum payment of $236 and she could click on the email to make a payment right away. However, Rowe doesn't have a Discover Card.

"My initial reaction was that somebody has stolen my identity and opened a credit card, and now I have got to get rid of $10,000 on a balance for this credit card," said Rowe.

She frantically began clicking on the links, but it required her to log in to her account, which she doesn't have. However, as it turns out, that was very lucky for her.

"She told me it was a phishing scam," said Rowe.

She contacted Discover Card and found out this was a phony email called a phishing scam. It was someone trying to get her bank information and money.

"We've seen phishing attacks where somebody will try to make their website look like the bank's website," said Kevin Haley, an Internet security expert from Symantec.

Haley says fake websites can be very convincing and Rowe agrees.

"It just looked very real. The graphics were real, the logo was real, the Facebook and Twitter on the bottom of the email looked real," said Rowe. "I thought, well if there's somebody who can get the news out to people about this scam, it's probably Michael Finney."

Rowe contacted Seven On Your Side and we contacted Discover. It tells us: "A limited number of emails purported o be from Discover Card were sent to a random list of consumers. The e-mail was not originated from Discover."

The company would not say whether anyone gave money or personal data to the scammers.

However, Discover did say, "We have taken the appropriate action to shut down the source."

Indeed when Rowe clicks on the email now, it shows broken links. Thankfully all she lost was a peaceful Sunday.

"It was not a great feeling on a Sunday morning, but I did wake up a lot," said Rowe.

Like most any company, Discover says it will never send customers an email containing links to make a payment. If you get any emails asking for money, just delete those and go directly to the company's website to check it out and make a payment.


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