Did PureVPN Shut Down and Close User Accounts?
Last night, all users of the popular virtual private network service PureVPN received an email announcing the permanent closure of all user accounts due to legal issues faced by the company. In a much more worrying twist, it claimed to be giving away all of the customer data to the authorities, including the real name, phone number, credit card info and other billing data.
I'm sorry to inform you that due to an incident we had to close your account permanently. We are no longer able to run an anonymization service due to legal issues we are facing.
We had to handover all customer’s information to the authorities unfortunately. They might contact you if they need any details about the case they are working on. The following information was handed over: your name, billing address and phone number provided during purchase and any documents we had on file (for example scan of your ID or driver’s license if you have provided these to our billing department).
We are also sorry we are not able to refund you, however if you wish your money back, please open a dispute on PayPal or file a chargeback with your credit card company. This is the only way we can refund you as our bank account is frozen during this investigation. We recommend you to do this as soon as possible as we can't guarantee all customers will get their money back.
We apologize once more this had to happen.
Fortunately, the email turned out to be completely and utterly fake, as confirmed by a blog post on the company’s official website posted just a few hours ago. The company also sent out a real follow-up email explaining the situation to the troubled customers.
The PureVPN team explains that their website was hacked. Now, it seems that everything has been resolved. The blog post reassures all readers that the “VPN service is working 100% OK”, but also explains the need to temporarily disable the billing portal and client area.
Why Were the Billing Portal and Client Area Closed?
In order to mitigate the effects of the fake email, PureVPN had to closed down the client area and billing portal. Otherwise, too many customers might have closed their accounts and put the entire service in jeopardy over claims made by a fake email.
However, this still doesn’t resolve the issue of the customers’ personal data being at risk. If you currently are or at some point were using PureVPN’s services, you’re probably worried about your name, billing, address, payment details and phone number being compromise. After all, if hackers were able to gain access to your email address, who knows what else they could have obtained?
Is Your Data at Risk?
While there is currently no conclusive evidence available to support any claim, there are clues that lead people to believe that data was not compromised. After all, all users were addressed as “Dear customer” in the email. Someone who would have access to all of the company’s data would be able to write an email with your real name in it to make it more believable.
Why Was the Fake Email Sent?
The intent of the email is clearly malicious, as it advises PureVPN customers to reverse their PayPal payments and initiate chargebacks with their credit card. I can only imagine how things look at the PureVPN headquarters right now. There’s probably a considerable number of people who were fooled by the email, even though there were clear signs that it was fake.
Reasons Why PureVPN Shutdown Notice Was Fake:
- The recipients were not addressed by their name. “Dear customer” and any other variations are never used by the actual company that has your name on file, which is a clear sign that the email is fake.
- The VPN service still works. Anyone who tested their VPN after receiving the email could see that it was still working, despite the fact that the fake email suggested the contrary.
- When receiving such email, it’s always best to confirm the information at the company’s official website. In this case, worried PureVPN users discovered a blog post that denied any claims of a shutdown.
What if You Already Submitted a PayPal Claim?
If you’ve already filed a claim with PayPal to reverse your payment, you can either wait until it expires and not to escalate it to a claim when you are asked, or try to close it right now. Either way should work for you perfectly.
What’s the Current Status at PureVPN?
Out of everyone involved, the team behind PureVPN is probably in the worst situation right now. They are probably facing numerous chargeback attempts and are doing their best to get the word out that the email was fake. Either way, things won’t be the same for the company for the next few days. You can follow their updates on the official twitter account @PureVPN.
Who’s Behind the Fake Email?
It is currently unclear who could be behind the fake email sent out to all PureVPN customers under the name of the company’s founder. It might be an attack by disgruntled customers or competitors, my guess is as good as yours at this time.
I will update this post with new information as it becomes available.