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Online Identity Theft

Spoof Email Hoax scams and Fake Web Pages or Sites

by Mat Bright
27th June 2003 (last updated 23rd February 2004)

Part Seven


Be prepared! Prevention is better than a cure

Follow these rules to prevent disaster from striking...

Do NOT use your User Name(s) or email address(es) in any forums or discussion groups, use a completely different ID instead and use a 'disposable' web based email address (such as Hotmail or Yahoo). Many user names/email addresses are picked up from these groups by fraudsters (especially the Usenet groups which are almost completely unmoderated and full of personal abuse and spamming and subsequently receive a plethora of spoof and spam emails).

Do NOT use the same password for more than one site. This is very dangerous, if for example, you had used the same password for eBay and Paypal, then it would take the fraudster a few more seconds to completely wrap up your auctions and accounts. Many people have used the same password over and over again when they really should not.

NEVER, and I do mean never click on any link, or complete any form in any email whatsoever! That applies whether it is genuine or not, and this is because any link can be disguised with a little knowledge of HTML code ( may look like it will take you to eBay UK, but it will actually open our home page with showing in the address bar). See also Identity Theft Part 3. Its best to open your internet browser and manually type in the address of the web page you want to go to.

NEVER supply your user ID and password in response to any email whatsoever. eBay and Paypal will never ask you to do this, so DON'T DO IT!!

Always sign up with any online payment scheme (such as Paypal) using a private email address that you do not use elsewhere. Your email for eBay does not have to be the same email address that you use for payments.

Always use a secure sign in, reputable and responsible sites offer this, if they don't - DO NOT USE THEM! eBay has a very poor policy on this; you will always be offered a standard sign in on their log in screen, with the secure sign in as an option. Amazon and Paypal, however, only have a secure sign in, and once signed in, you are contained within a secure connection. Secure connections have a URL beginning with "https://" and will show a 'locked gold padlock' symbol in your browser's status bar.

NEVER write down your password(s) OR share them with anyone (hell hath no fury like a friend/partner scorned)!

Always ensure your physical privacy when entering your User ID and password - make sure that no one can see what you are typing.

BE AWARE of the URL address of the website that you are visiting and be satisfied that you are at the correct site before interacting with it in any way. For instance, if you were at the sign in page of (US site), the address will be Get familiar with those site address prefixes and if you need to be sure that you are at the right site in the first place, simply enter the address of the site's homepage in the address bar of your browser (e.g. Once you are at the site, check the URL in the address bar.

NEVER remain logged into your account unnecessarily - do what you have to do and, when finished, log out staight away.

DISABLE JAVASCRIPT (or active scripting) while browsing auction pages and' About Me' (or any other user compiled) pages in eBay. We've seen a demonstration of Cookie data being gleaned from users' machines from within these pages in eBay (such as other users' 'About Me' pages - as was perilously shown by a now banned eBay user). Log in only to buy or sell, and log out when you are finished.

CONFIGURE YOUR EMAIL program to read emails in plain text only

USE reputable firewall and anti-virus software at ALL times. Also, keep the programs updated on a daily basis (including virus definitions.

USE a reputable trojan horse and/or privacy scanner program, such as Spycop. Also, keep these programs and your operating system (such as Windows) up to date on a daily basis.

Next we look at what we can do to avoid becoming the victim of a hijacked account on eBay...

go to previous go to Part Onego to next


Its a common internet fraud crime and internet users are the target of Spoof email hoax scams and fake or forged web pages.
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