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On ‘phishy’ e-mails and changes of address

Some national scams that involved identity theft as well as fraudulent charges have recently affected the Parkland.

U.S. Postal Service Agent Dan Taylor alerted the Daily Journal to complaints across the country, including our area, about unauthorized websites that charge consumers to file a change of address with the U.S. Postal Service. The websites charge $20 to $30 for a service that is free when you contact the post office directly.

No companies are authorized by the Postal Service to perform a change of address. If you want your mail to be sent to a new address, you must authorize this directly with the post office, and there is no charge if you do so on site.

The U.S. Postal Service does charge a $1 fee to those submitting an online change of address through the official USPS website This fee is a security feature to confirm that the credit card billing address matches one of the addresses included in the change of address request.

Taylor said that some of the victims reported that even though they paid the money, no change of address was filed.

If you have information on this or similar scams, report it to Postal Inspectors online at or call 877-876-2455, then select option three.

Earlier this month, hackers illegally breached the files of Epsilon Interactive, a Dallas, Tex., company and accessed millions of e-mail addresses. It did not take long for scammers to use the addresses in phishing scams.

One such scam involves e-mails being sent from a fake “Chase Bank.” The e-mail warns that your account will be deactivated or deleted if you do not update your profile immediately. The instructions tell you to click on a link to update your information.

“These hackers want you to hand over vital information that can ultimately lead to identity theft,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB president and CEO. “Consumers need to know the red flags to keep their identity protected.”

In response, U.S. Bank send out a notice saying that Epsilon helps the bank send e-mails to customers about products and services that may be of interest to them.

“We want to assure you that U.S. Bank has never provided Epsilon with financial information about you,” the legitimate notice read. For your security, however, we wanted to call this matter to your attention. We ask that you remain alert to any unusual or suspicious e-mails.”

Like most banks, U.S. Bank will never request information such as your personal ID, password, social security number, PIN or account number through an e-mail.

Phishing scammers pose as reputable companies to fraudulently obtain your personal information such as logins, passwords, credit card information or account numbers.

The BBB offers the following tips to help consumers confronted with phishing scams.

• Never reply to unsolicited e-mails. If the message includes a link within it, never click it. Many schemers use this as way to spread a viral attack on your computer. 

• Do not give personal or financial information to anyone who contacts you by e-mail. Your bank, the IRS or a law enforcement agency will not contact you by e-mail. They will send you a letter.

• Spread the word. Discuss phishing scams with all family members who have e-mail addresses. Young people may be computer savvy, but not scam savvy. Older adults often are targeted by scammers, too.

• Transmitted information should be encrypted. When sending personal information like addresses, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers over the Internet, make sure the website is fully encrypted and the network is secure. Look for https (the “s” stands for secure) at the beginning of the URL address.

• Know the red flags. Poor grammar or misspelled words are red flags that the e-mail is probably a scam. Most importantly, never wire money based on instructions in one of these suspicious e-mails. Scammers prey on those who think they need to wire money to have a situation resolved.

• Protect your computer. Keep your antivirus software up to date and run it regularly.

Readers, have you had either of these happen to you? If so, please share your story in the comments section of this story.

The Daily Journal has made a commitment to keep readers abreast of scams that hit our area. If someone tries to make you the victim of a scam, submit details at (click on the Scam logo) or call us at 431-2010 and tell us what happened.

We will try to include your story in our scam alert series to prepare others who may find themselves in the same situation. The Daily Journal will run Scam Alert stories in the Weekend paper.

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