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October 9th, 2009

With Email Scams Galore, Guard Your Password



The recession seems to have brought the hackers and spammers out in full force. Our previous posts on fraud have received a lot of attention since they’re obviously of some concern and interest to our readers. We’ve told you about the scams that have pervaded social networking sites like Tagged.com and FaceBook.com and the massive fraud attached to Federal spending. The latest tale involves email phishing — a scam which preys on the unwary and inattentive.

Earlier this week we saw reports that potentially millions of Hotmail.com passwords were compromised, reportedly as part of a large phishing scam. The hackers created a website that was designed to look identical to Hotmail.com in order to fool customers into logging in.

Yet, after officials warned Hotmail customers of the security breach and advised them to change their passwords, a similar scam attacked several other high-profile email providers:

Up to 21 million people and businesses who use the Hotmail service in the UK were warned they are potentially at risk of being defrauded after passwords were acquired illegally.

Around 10,000 passwords were obtained by hackers who created a fake website identical to Hotmail’s to fool users into entering their email address and password in a ‘phishing’ scam.

According to the UK’s Mail Online, the passwords were published on Pastebin.com, a site “intended for web developers to share code.” However, when we checked in with Pastebin.com, they claimed they don’t have the passwords:

In the past few days, pastebin.com has been cited in a wide variety of high-profile news sources regarding a “leak” of email account passwords.

This brought a huge surge in visitors, and ensuring I kept the server functioning took up all my available spare time. I wrote a short blog entry which attracted a lot of comments. Things are a little calmer now, so I’m writing this longer post to explain what happened.

This looks like a long post, just tell me my email account wasn’t compromised…

  • I do not have copy of the list
  • and….I do not have a copy of the list
  • just to be clear….I do not have a copy of the list

While Hotmail seems to be the only company which suffered from a security breach, scammers phishing for passwords is certainly nothing new and it’s something that won’t go away anytime soon. If you are at all concerned that your email account may have been compromised, simply change your password and closely monitor your bank and credit card accounts for any change in activity. If you do see an abnormality, contact your bank or credit card provider as soon as possible.

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About the HSH Blog

HSH.com's daily blog focuses on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets. Our mission is to relate how changes in mortgage rates and housing policy, as well as the latest financial news, impacts consumers, homebuyers and industry insiders alike. Our 30-plus years of experience in the mortgage industry gives us an edge as we break down the latest changes in an ever-changing market.

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Tim Manni

Tim Manni is the Managing Editor of HSH.com and the author of their daily blog, which concentrates on the latest developments in the mortgage and housing markets.

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