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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Do I Have "Sucker" Written On My Forehead? 

In the past two days, I have had two attempts at what can only be called fraud sent to my email account. One claiming to be from eBay looking to update my account - all they needed was my login and password, and one claiming to be from Fleet Bank (a bank, I need to add, with which I have no relationship whatsoever) asking for my debit account number, expiration date, and PIN.

Being the dutiful Boy Scout I am, I decided to do my part to track down the perpetrators of these two really lame scams. I had mixed results.

eBay: I went to their support page, and was able to very easily find an address where I could forward the entire offending email, headers and all, for their further investigative use. After doing so, I received not one but two emails within the next 20 minutes; the first explaining that my email had been received and the second advising that I was indeed the target of an attempted scam, with instructions as to what to do if I had foolishly divulged any account information to the perpetrators. Assured they had the matter well in hand, I moved on to a large banking conglomerate, which one would think would have in place a method for dealing with this sort of thing as well.

Fleet: ...I was mistaken. I went to Fleet's website, and after clicking on the link advising users about email scams (fairness: this was in a prominent position on the front page), after the obligatory DON'T GIVE THEM ANYTHING warning, along with a link to click on if I had divulged any private info, I was advised to call a 1-800 number to report the incident. So I did. The voicemail system didn't provide a clear method to report an incident like this, so I went for good old '0' for an operator. After reclassifying my call as "none of the above", I finally talked to a very nice lady who asked me for my account number. I explained my situation, and asked to be directed to the fraud department. She informed me that there was no such thing. While a bit taken aback that a bank didn't have a fraud department, I pressed on: "Can I forward this to someone who can track the senders down?" I asked. No - she informed me, but she would be happy to get the details of the email and send them to her supervisor. So I ran down the contents of the email with her, including the text of the link the scammer included, and the actual address it linked to. She took down all of this information (I assume) and assured me that she'd get it to someone with more authority than her.

When comparing a dot-com business vs. an "old" economy powerhouse, who is better equipped to handle modern-day fraud? The answer, not surprisingly, is the "new" economy whipper-snapper, eBay. I give Fleet credit for trying to adapt and having people work the phones through the night (which I'm sure eBay doesn't have at 11:30PM), but for this sort of problem, eBay definitely shined. Maybe calls like mine will prompt Fleet to move into the new world of customer service.

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