ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Phishing 101 - "Please Verify Your Account"

Updated on March 30, 2009

I got this email today. Subject: Your card has been deactivated

Dear Bank of America card holder,

During our regular update and verification of the clients data, we detected a serious error on your card.

For your security, your card has been deactivated.

In order to reactivate your card you need to verify your account using the link below.

We thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. Please understand that this is a security measure intended to help protect you and your card.

Sincerely, Bank of America

Wow. That's weird. I did recently make a larger-than-normal purchase. I wonder if they did something as a precaution. I've actually had a credit card suspend my account in the past due to unusual activity.  So, this made some sense.

But wait.... "serious error"?  What is that supposed to mean?  Just from some routine check? That doesn't really make sense.

Lesson #1

If it doesn't feel right, it might NOT be!

Trust your gut. It's your identity.

Lesson #2

Don't give out any information unless you called them!

This is really about who makes first contact. If I leave a message for someone at my local bank branch, and they call me back, then I can assume that it's really them. But if I get a call out of the blue about my account, and they start asking me to confirm my social security number or my account number, then something is "phishy" (so to speak).

The email I got was unsolicited. I'm just asking for trouble if I follow the link they sent and try logging in.

But they included a link to, which I know is right! Right?


Lesson #3

Links can be faked!

Put your mouse over the link. If you look at the bottom of your browser window, it shows you where the link really goes. I changed it for this article, so it would be more obvious.

The link in the actual email went to That doesn't seem right.  (In this case, that site doesn't even exist, but some of the fake sites I've gotten did exist.)  If it was legitimate, then I would expect to be able to change that portion of the link to bankofamerica and still be able to log in properly. But when I do that, I get Page Not Available.

This email was definitely a scam. Someone is phishing for information.

Lesson #4

Your bank most likely has professionals working for them. This means that the quality of any message from them will be high, as it was written by professionals.

This message came from scum. Scum that's too lazy to do real work, and was obviously too lazy to learn proper English, much less put the time into determining the proper professional language for a message like this.

If you didn't notice already, take a look at this sentence from the email:

During our regular update and verification of the clients data, we detected a serious error on your card.

Um, "the clients data"? What clients? Or was that "the clients' data"? That wouldn't make sense, either. How about "our clients' data", or just "client data"?  Those would make sense, but that's not what they said.

If the language is anything less than perfect, then something is amiss. (Here's your answer for your kids when they say there's no reason to learn grammar!) :)

I'm guessing this message came from overseas somewhere.

Lesson #5

When in doubt, refer to lesson #2.

If something seems "not quite right", and you've acted on lesson #1 by trusting your instincts, then you should always be able to re-initiate.

If you're on the phone, tell the person you'll have to get back to them. If the person tries to keep you from getting off the phone, that's a sure sign!!! If they let you go, then they've lost their scam! If they're legit, they will be perfectly fine with you getting back to them. If they give you a phone #, listen politely as they tell you and say "uh huh", "yup", and "got it" as if you were writing it down. Then hang up and forget the number entirely. If you wrote it down (just to be convincing on the phone, of course), throw it away.

You always have a way to get in touch with your bank, credit card, provider, etc. Find a phone number on their website; go find the latest statement from them and get the number off of that; look them up on,, or  If all else fails, and you have a local branch, go there.

Once you've gotten in touch with them through the proper channels, you can know that you are speaking with the right people, and you can resolve whatever issue there may (or may not) be.


In case you're not familiar with the term, the email I got was an example of "phishing", the computer-scum equivalent of fishing.  They throw out some bait and see who bites.

It's quite unnerving sometimes. As I mentioned before, I had recently made a large purchase on my credit card with Bank of America. I would not have been surprised if they suspended my card. This just goes to show that phishers can sometimes get lucky. This is twice now that I've gotten phishing emails that coincidentally coincided (type that 10 times fast) with my real recent activity!

I've gotten a few phishing emails in the past that were very convincing! I felt like I may have had a slight advantage over the average person in those situations because I have a technical background and can recognise certain tricks. So, I worry about people like my in-laws, who are not very good with computers and may not see the warning signs. Even people who are quite savvy might not spot the tricks right away.

I truly hope that this whole thing is completely obvious to the majority of the people that see it and that I just totally wasted 1+ hours putting it together. But regular people fall victim to this stuff all the time! It's understandable, too. Especially when an email is especially well done, or when someone on the phone is really convincing, good at fast-talk, and gets you to tell them things you shouldn't before you've had a chance to think it through.

Watch it out there...


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • sid_candid profile image


      8 years ago

      Great advice. Thanks for writing such a wonderful hub.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      9 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Important advice. Thanks for sharing.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      9 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Yeah i kinda beefed up my security with the threat of the Conficker and all before April 1st. Thanks again. :D

    • droj profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from CNY

      My understanding is that the filters are just that, filters. If a site has been reported, then you'll get a warning from your browser. That definitely a good thing, but I wouldn't rely on that 100%. But what if it hasn't been reported yet? A lot of people have the added protection of something like Norton or McAffee added to the browser. But recognising the warning signs may be able to save you when those things can't; like when it's a phone call, for example. :)

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 

      9 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Okay thanks for the info. Sure glad you're one "curious" guy and I can't blame you, what will all the scammers that abound.

      And good thing browers come with Phishing Filters! :D


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)