Comp-U-News from Comp-U-Talk
September 2004

The best thing to do behind a person's back is to pat it.

Don't Get Phished!

Any more it is difficult to tell what is spam and what is real mail. For instance, just this past week I received e-mail from Citibank, US Bank, E-Bay and PayPal, all requesting that I update/change/revise/verify my account data. Now I know the e-mails from Citibank and US Bank are fraudulent because I don't own a Citibank or US Bank account. But how do I know the E-Bay and PayPal messages are fraudulent? I do have accounts with both.

The PayPal account was the most obvious. I stared at it for two minutes before I figured out it was scan. The web page it linked to looked like it should belong to PayPal, but after close inspection I discovered the address was misspelled. The actual site I visited was That's a double "a", not a single "a" in the address line. Now I know Americans are bad spellers, but large corporations are not going to post their site to a web address that is misspelled. Case Solved! The site is bogus.

I had to work harder to determine the E-Bay email was illegitimate. Internet Explorer has an option to show a status bar at the bottom of the window. You can toggle the status bar to off or on by pulling down the View Menu and clicking on Status bar. With the status bar turned on, you can point at any link and the status bar will show you the destination address. The E-Bay links pointed to IP numbers, not to actual web addresses. What's an IP number, you ask? All websites are assigned an IP number. It takes the form of ###.###.###.### where each # sign is replaced by a digit. For example: The IP Number assigned to the website is 12. 108.9.120. When a company uses IP numbers instead of actual addresses, they are normally trying to hide. It is not a good sign. Conclusion: The E-Bay email is most probably bogus.

When companies (aka: terrorist) try to gather information, it is known as "phishing". There is a website dedicated to tracking phishing attacks at They report some interesting statistics.

If you are the victim of fraud or a scan, you can report it at, the BAD Business Bureau of the Internet. And while they probably aren't going to help you get your money or your pride back, you might feel better knowing you could help prevent others from making the same mistake.

Happy surfing!