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I Almost Got Spoofed!
By Lynda Schab

There it was. A message from eBay saying my account was going to be canceled, because someone had recently tried using my name illegally on the eBay website. Unless I clicked on the link and reentered my user name and password, my account would be canceled within forty-eight hours. Better hurry!

I clicked on the link and the sign-in screen popped up. It winked at me, silently pleading me to enter my information. But something made me hesitate. I sat, staring at the screen for a few moments. It looked legitimate, just like the normal eBay sign-on screen.

So what was I waiting for? My fingers hovered over the keyboard. Maybe I should get more information, I thought. So I clicked my way over to "My eBay" and checked out the "security" link. There I learned that all emails sent by eBay would be addressed to me by my real name (not my user name).

I checked the email and, sure enough, found that it did not address me by name. The warning bells rang in my head and so I did what eBay suggested, which was to forward the message on to them at spoof@ebay.com.

They responded quickly, informing me that the message had definitely not been sent by eBay. Instead, it was the work of a sick, twisted soul (okay, that was my thought) and they recommended changing my password if I had clicked on the link and entered any personal information. Even though I hadn’t gone that far, I decided to change my password anyway – just to be safe.

I went to the bank a couple of days later to withdraw some of my PayPal funds. The teller told me of a woman who came in just that day, who had a substantial amount of money stolen from her bank account because she had been taken by this scam! I said a prayer of thanks that I had paused and taken a few moments to verify the validity of the email. I also said a prayer for the woman who fell prey to this hoax. Most likely she was angry with herself for falling for it – I know I would have been!

Of course, the Internet provides endless opportunities for scams, schemes, hoaxes, and even total destruction! I have learned that it never hurts to be cautious. The few extra minutes it takes to verify something will be well worth it in the end.

Since that first scamming attempt, I have gotten several more emails, saying basically the same thing. They just don't give up, do they?

I occasionally still receive messages that someone has been tampering with my eBay or PayPal account, or simply that my account information needs to be verified. Now that I have briefed myself on the eBay and PayPal "security measures", I know what to look for.

What amazes me is that for a split second I still find myself wondering if these emails are true. But with all of the scams circulating the Web, it's smart to play it safe. So now when a suspect message arrives from eBay, I simply forward the messages on to Spoof@Ebay.com and let them deal with it. If it is legitimate, they will let me know. If it's NOT, they want to know about it so they can keep improving their own security measures.

This event got me thinking about how often we, as Christians, fall for spiritual "scams". The devil has this great way of making everything look legitimate. Then wham! He nails us.

Forget the saying, "a woman's work is never done." It's more like, "the Christian's work is never done!" The devil, our great enemy, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour (1 Peter 5:8). We are always to be on the alert for his schemes and plans of destruction. Being informed is one of our great defenses. Whether it is in the way of knowing God's Word so we can thwart the attacks of the devil, or knowing what to look for in fake email alerts, wisdom is supreme. As it says in Proverbs 2:11, "Wise planning will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe."

I don't know about you, but I want to be safe from anything that has the potential to harm me, including Internet scams.

Unfortunately, the woman from the bank wasn't informed. If she had been, it would have made a world of difference.

Copyright Lynda Schab 2004
Lynda Schab is a FaithWriters’ member and freelance writer who lives with her family in Michigan. She can be contacted at Lschab4jc@yahoo.com.

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