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iTunes Store phishing scam reappears

Yesterday I received a suspicious e-mail informing me that I had a "billing problem" with my iTunes Store account, a sign that Internet-based scammers again are targeting Apple customers.

The goal, of course, is to trick the recipient into clicking on a fake Web address contained in the e-mail. Those that take the bait land at a fraudulent Web site where they unwittingly surrender their credit card or account password information to the criminals.

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A similar wave of e-mails aimed at iTunes Store customers went out last May. I received a phishing e-mail regarding my (then) .Mac account last June. And less than two weeks ago Gizmodo reported on a phishing e-mail directed at people due to renew their MobileMe accounts.

Most people recognize these scam messages for what they are and delete them immediately. But a few click impulsively, driven by false concern over their account. Don't be one of those people.

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The e-mail I got yesterday was not as sophisticated as others I've seen. Though I admit seeing the words "iTunes Store" and "billing problem" in my e-mail caught my attention.

But the message within clearly was a phishing scam, riddled with red flags: the "undisclosed recipients" in the address line, the blank space next to "Dear," the numerous spelling errors, the awkward English.

It's been said many times before, but it always bears repeating: Never click on links in e-mails that propose to take you to a page where you must "verify" any account or password information. Not for Apple, not for a financial institution, not for eBay. Never do it.

If you're concerned about a personal account, go directly to that company's Web site and log in as you would normally. You can then safely check your account.


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