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Posted by on Dec 4, 2015 in Elder Abuse |

ARE YOU ONLINE? Don’t Get “Phished”

If you are online, you may have received some interesting email notifications recently.  Here’s a quote from one I received from “American Express Alerts” in November:

Dear Customer, Please note that we have introduced a new online authentication procedures in order to protect the private information of our customers.  You are required to confirm your online details with us as you will not be able to have access to your accounts until this has been done.  Kindly open the attachment to confirm your online details.  Once you’ve completed this you’ll be able to manage your money whenever you want, giving you more control of your finances.  Sincerely, American Express Customer Care.

Unfortunately for this sender, I did not open the attachment.  I don’t have an American Express credit card.

When read quickly, this message looked real.  The colors used were those associated with American Express and there were links to customer service and the “company’s” privacy statement, all on the face of the message.

When you first read through the email message, did you notice that the word “procedures” should not have been plural?   Did you detect pressure in the message to open the attachment or lose the ability to access the account?  Did you feel a little confused by the reference to managing money and controlling finances?

These types of scam emails usually have a few things in common:

  • Spelling errors
  • Links within the email
  • Threats of problems which will occur if the reader does not comply with instructions
  • Poses as a well-known company or entity


Designed to get your personal information, they “phish” in order to commit fraud.  These cyber criminals want your login and password information, account number or detailed personal information such as social security number, date of birth, home address and telephone number.  They may try to install malware (harmful software) on your home computer.

Although making sure your virus protection is current is helpful, the most important way to avoid victimization is to read each email carefully.  If you suspect it may be fake, contact the company by phone and ask if it is legitimate.  When in doubt, ignore the email.

Carolyn Reilly

Executive Director

Elder Law & Advocacy


Elder Law & Advocacy is a nonprofit organization which provides free legal help and Medicare counseling to older adults in San Diego County.  Call 858 656 1392 for assistance.