7 On Your Side

Woman gets caught up in phishing scam

Friday, July 06, 2012

It's been a problem for years and it's not going away. Phishing emails can look so real and the senders seem to know all about you. However, don't be fooled. One fake email cost a Bay Area woman a chunk of money and lots of frustration.

Eva Alkana always makes sure her computer is secure against hackers. Ironically, trying to be secure led her right into a scam.

It started when she received an email offering to renew her Norton Antivirus protection plan for two years for just $120. So, Alkana called the phone number and spoke to a nice woman.

"She said 'Oh, good, give me your credit card number,' and I did," Alkana said.

Not only did she give her credit card number, Alkana let the woman get into her computer by remote control, saying she could update her Norton account.

"So I let her in the computer she fixed everything she had to do," Alkana said. "She was very sweet she was very professional and I had high respect of her."

However, three months later Alkana found out that $120 credit never appeared on her Norton account. Norton told her she had never paid them.

Yet on Alkana's credit card statement, it clearly shows the $120 payment to "Norton-PayPal, Norton Renew." So why didn't it get there? Eva called PayPal.

"I said, 'What's this, who got the, who has the $120?' She said 'I'll take care of it,'" Alkana said.

PayPal insisted it did pay Norton, and Norton kept saying it never got the money. Finally Alkana found out what really happened.

"I was convinced that lady was from Norton, but she wasn't," Alkana said.

It turned out that email was a fake sent by a Norton imposter. The big clue? Norton said they never use PayPal as a form of payment. Also, the company never sends emails with a Yahoo account, which is what the imposter did.

PayPal told Alkana to dispute the charge with her credit card company, but it was already past the 60-day deadline for making a claim.

"I had it by then; I said, 'I'm going to ABC, 7 On Your Side. I know Michael will get this straightened out," she said.

7 On Your Side contacted PayPal about that $120 payment. Soon after, PayPal decided to refund Alkana money.

PayPal would not discuss the case, citing privacy rules, but pointed to its Purchase Protection Policy, which guards customers against fraud. PayPal said, "...We take time to understand each individual issue and concern and do everything we can to achieve a fair resolution."

Alkana says she's learned a tough lesson.

"If I ever get another email that claims it's that company, make sure they're the ones that sent that email," she said. "You will find out really fast, they didn't."

Norton says it never sends out emails asking for money or a credit card number.

If you receive an email from a business, make sure it is real. Look up the company phone number and call it directly. Also, pay your bills directly to the business, not through an email or link.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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internet, 7 on your side, michael finney
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