How Not To Get Scammed By An Email

In what seems like longer than nine months ago, in only my second blog post ever, I wrote a blog regarding a scam letter I received in my junk mail.  My friend said it had her cracking up so hard that she had to stop reading it halfway through and then continue after she regained her self control.

That’s because it made fun of how silly those letters often are.

But sometimes it’s no laughing matter.

I want to share with you an email that I received just this morning. Like many people I am an ‘Ebayer’ where I buy and have sold on Ebay. So needless to say, I have an account and whoever sent this knows it.

Here’s the Letter:

Subject (in the email subject line): Case ID Number: EB-503-472-569

Dear eBay user,

As part of our security, we regularly screen activity of eBay accounts. We recently contacted you after noticing an issue on your account.

We are requesting information from you for the following reason:

We recently received a report of unauthorized credit card use associated with this account. As a precaution, we have limited access to your eBay account in order to protect against future unauthorized transactions.
Case ID Number: EB-503-472-569

This is a reminder to restore your account as soon as possible.

Please download the form attached to this email and open it in a web browser. Once opened, you will be provided with steps to restore your account access. We appreciate your understanding as we work to ensure account safety.

In accordance with eBay’s User Agreement, your account access will remain limited until the issue has been resolved. Unfortunately, if access to your account remains limited for an extended period of time, it may result in further limitations or eventual account closure. We encourage you to restore your eBay account as soon as possible to help avoid this.

We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Please understand that this is a security measure intended to help protect you and your account. We apologize for any inconvenience.

eBay Account Review Department
eBay Email ID EB6728

The one thing that stands out to me as the scariest aspect of this letter is that it’s believable. It makes sense that when dealing with an online store you could run into a problem with a credit card payment.

The usual signs of a scam email are not present. It makes sense and is well written (the guys who send those emails are usually in other countries and wouldn’t even try to use a phrase like ‘eventual account closure’).

But if you’re an experienced Ebay user, there are two things that glare at you when you read this email that let you know it’s a scam.

First, Ebay knows who you are. Anything coming from Ebay will always either address you by your birth name or by your email address. Look at this snap shot I took after filtering my email account to all Ebay emails.

In the subject line of the top email and the third to the last email is my Ebay screen name. And six of these emails, be it from Ebay or Paypal, address me by name.

They are speaking in email above like they monitor your account and there was a report of fraud, but refer to you as Dear Ebay User? That’s like a cop knocking on your door and saying, “You in the blue shirt, we have a warrant for your arrest”.

Second, they say they are putting your account on a limited access claiming unauthorized use of a credit card. One problem; Ebay doesn’t process credit card payments for sales. This email should have come from Paypal, which is the only company Ebay allows you to use to accept payments.

Of course an Ebay/Paypal newbie might not know these things. So be very careful.

My advice:

  • If you receive an email from Paypal, Ebay, your bank, or anything else of a financial nature claiming any kind of fraud and you’re unsure if it’s legit, NEVER do anything online.
  • Call the company directly and ask. If the info you get on the phone doesn’t match the email, the person on the phone is always the winner and toss that email.
  • NEVER click on any links or download any attachments unless you’re 100% positive about the legitimacy of who it’s from and what it’s about.
  • If you need to log in to your account to see what’s going on before you call, open up another browser or another window in the same browser, manually type in the web address (i.e. and log in from there. If you ever get to a website from a third party link, they could gain access to what you put in, such as your password and username.

Better safe than sorry


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