Thursday, May 12, 2005

Fishing for advice

I assume that you have heard of "fishing"?

It's a technique in which spammers and identify theft crooks use. These ner-do-wells create emails that mimic national bank chains, or Amazon, or other commonly used on-line places; the unsuspecting victim receives said email, which instructs the victim to click on this link, and go to site so-and-so to update their account information or something like that. Then, faster than you can say "a bustier that lifts and separates" the crooks have your vital info and can book their next trip to Aruba on your dime.

Why do I bring this up? Have I become an ID theft victim?

No, but the possibility is making me worried, man (and a bit paranoid).

I received a flyer in the mail. It looks EXACTLY like something my credit card company would send me. The flyer is telling me to take advantage of their new list of select merchants that allow me to earn more cash-back points if I purchase in their establishments, using my card.

But I have to register the card to begin the accumulation and associated tracking of points. To do that I have to go to the credit card site and register my card.

That's no problem, however, since I have already registered my card with the credit card company's online site--since that is how I pay my bill each month. So, I go to the same site that I use to pay my bill, put in my user name and password, then I have to click on the particular link to register my card for this new level of reward points.

As I was preparing to do this, the specter of ID crooks and "fishers" [No offense intended towards you, Shirtless!] arose in my head. Was I falling for their scheme? Was this new site (off of the regular credit card company site) simply a ruse?

But it can't be, right? Do these ID theft guys have the money to do print mailings? Isn't fishing usually done with much cheaper emails? And didn't I have to go though and identify myself on the credit card site that I always use to pay my bills?

This is on the up-and-up, right? I'm just not sure . . . any advice?

1 comment:

Sven Golly said...

Caveat emptor.
In my judgment, you are right to be suspicious. To paraphrase/update Thoreau, beware of any enterprise that requires new clothes or revealing your credit card information.