Pinedale Scam Alert: E-mails claiming to be from CenturyTel
Scam e-mail claims CenturyTel will shut down e-mail service in 7 days if personal information is not verified
February 12, 2009
CenturyTel alerts Pinedale customers of Internet potential scam
(Pinedale) — CenturyTel has recently been notified of suspicious Internet activity occurring in the Pinedale area, and the company would like to remind customers that it does not ask for personal data such as payment information, Social Security number, or login information, in an e-mail.
"We have received a few calls that customers are receiving e-mails that appear to be coming from CenturyTel. Like all reputable companies, CenturyTel will never send e-mail notices asking for customer payment information, usernames, or passwords used to manage accounts.
CenturyTel may send informative messages to customers, but will never ask for personal information via e-mail," said Randy Reed, area plant supervisor for CenturyTel.
Protecting customer privacy is a priority at CenturyTel. We also strongly encourage our customers to take every precaution in guarding their personal information. CenturyTel wants customers to be aware of the use of fraudulent e-mails to obtain personal information from Internet users, as well as load viruses onto their machines. This tactic is commonly known as phishing (pronounced "fishing"). As this tactic becomes more widespread, it is essential to understand the red flags involved with a phishing e-mail, as well as some simple techniques to avoid being impacted by them.
Phishing is a type of online identity theft. Through fraudulent e-mails -- masking as e-mails from legitimate businesses -- criminals attempt to con individuals into providing personal information such as credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other valuable information.
The attackers use well-known names of banks, online stores, major credit card companies and even Internet service providers in order to gain the confidence of consumers who are not educated about phishing attacks.
They may send out millions of e-mails each day, knowing that it only takes a very small percentage of people to fall into their trap to make their crime pay. They fake or "spoof" popular companies in order to fool the largest number of people.
Phishing e-mail messages often include official-looking logos from real organizations and other identifying information taken directly from legitimate Websites. However, you should be alarmed by any of the following phishing e-mail characteristics:
Generic greetings: Instead of using your name, many fraudulent e-mails begin with a general greeting, such as: "Dear [Company Name] customer."
A false sense of urgency: The e-mail will attempt to deceive you with the threat that your account is in jeopardy if you don't update your information as soon as possible.
Fake links: The text in a link may look valid, and then send you to a "spoof" address. Always check where a link is going before you click. Move your mouse over it and look at the URL on your browser or status bar. If it looks suspicious, don't click on the link.
Misspelled words or grammatical errors: Many fraudulent e-mails are generated outside of the United States, and the perpetrators are not proficient in English.
Common phishing phrases: Phishing e-mails often contain one of the following: "Verify your account;" "Update your account;" "During regular account maintenance...;" or "Failure to update your records will result in account suspension."
If you suspect an e-mail is fraudulent, do not respond to the e-mail or the e-mail address in the body of the message. Also, do not click on any embedded Website links as these could lead to malicious Websites.
If you believe you've responded to a phishing scam with personal or financial information or entered this information into a fake Website, you should report the incident to the business that appeared to be soliciting the information. (Their customer service number can usually be found on your last statement.) You should also change the passwords on all your online accounts and review your credit card and bank statements weekly for any suspicious activity.
Editor’s Note: We have heard concerns from Pinedale residents about this e-mail scam. The e-mail comes in with the subject line "Final Verification Of Your CenturyTel E-Mail Account" and shows the sender as: "From: Team CenturyTel". This e-mail advises that if you do not respond with your: User Name, Password, Date of Birth and Country, that your e-mail will be shut down in 7 days. Do not give out personal information in response to unsolicited e-mails, or people who call on the phone, without verifying the source. Technology makes it possible to make e-mails appear very legitimate and still be fake. Caller ID can also be faked. Calls that appear to be from your local phone company, bank, law enforcement, government offices, etc can also be faked and really be scammers pretending to be representatives from places where you maintain sensitive personal information. When in doubt, do not give out personal information. Pinedale Online is interested in hearing about any instances of these kinds of scams. We also encourage reporting these to the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office. - Dawn Ballou, Editor, Pinedale Online!