The following is a Plus Edition article, written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Note #1: The following article describes an incident with Yahoo Mail. However, it could as easily have been on AOL Mail.
A friend of mine had her Yahoo email account hacked a while ago. Her friends and I all knew it had been hacked when we received an email message claiming to be from her that started as, “I know this might be a surprise to you but am sorry to reach out to you in this manner. I apologize for not informing you about my travel to Scotland for a Seminar. Everything is going fine but there’s a little problem, I misplace my wallet on my way back to the hotel and right now all my credit cards, money are gone. Am sending you this message to inform you that am stranded at the moment and need your help financially.”
I knew the message did not come from my friend because of the typo errors in the message. The message went on at some length, asking me to send her money via Western Union.
NOTE #2: Never send money via Western Union, as it cannot easily be tracked and refunded, if needed. There are better, more fraud-resistant, ways to send money during emergencies.
Next, all US citizens as well as the citizens of most other countries can obtain an emergency loan and even tickets to return home by contacting the nearest embassy or consulate of their home country. Just ask any telephone operator or hotel clerk anywhere in the world to call your embassy or consulate. Also, a quick call to your credit card company will usually result in a temporary card number being issued to you. If you do not know the credit card company’s phone number, call the U.S. Toll-free Information Operator at +1-800-555-1212.
There is never any need to go begging for cash in email messages.
The message went on at some length and was the typical “phishing” message that has been sent millions of times by scammers. When notified, my friend immediately closed her Yahoo email account. In the process, she lost years of stored messages from friends and acquaintances. She then switched to another email service. Of course, she also had to notify all her friends and relatives of the new email address.
She also is concerned about her genealogy queries posted on various newsgroups and web sites that list her Yahoo address. Anyone who answers one of her queries in the future will be sending the message to a now-defunct email address.
I am not sure why, but almost all the email addresses that get hacked are either Yahoo or AOL accounts. Nothing is ever perfect, but I rarely receive such bogus messages asking for money from anyone other than those that have either an AOL or Yahoo email address.
In fact, there is an easy way to handle all this as long as you take action now, before your email address gets hacked. If you make changes now, you can minimize the disruption. That’s “minimize,” not eliminate. You will suffer from some inconvenience for a while but far less than what you will encounter if you wait until you are hacked. Making an abrupt change while under the stress of being hacked is a bad idea.
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