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December 13th, 2009

Att WoWers: Don’t Be Scammed!

This morning I received an email that claimed to be from wowaccountadmin@blizzard.com apparently concerning my World of Warcraft, or WoW, account.  Immediately I was circumspect.  The email had no graphics and the English was shoddy.  Still, I worried that some people may fall for it.

If you found this blog post by searching for info on the letter, you're already one step ahead - you checked it out before sending in your account info. 

Always do this!! I cannot stress this enough.  No company that does business online will ever ask for your personal account information via email.  Never.

If you truly believe your account with any company or agency is in jeapordy (this goes for bank accounts and credit card accounts, too), then contact the company/agency directly via email and/or telephone.  Ask them if they sent such an email and speak directly with someone about checking into the problem.

However, never click on the links in these emails.  They may take you to a fake website that looks like the real thing - just enough to fool you.  If you log into your account on this fake website, they have you.  A keylogger has just stolen your user name and password.  Do not call any phone numbers given in the email; this too could be a fake designed to get the information from you.  Instead, open your web browser and type in the address of the company/agency yourself, or Google it.  Never, ever for any reason click on links in a scam email - at the very least, the website that opens can download a worm, virus, or spyware onto your system.

The email may look legit - even with graphics and, sometimes, even citing the actual agency's Terms of Use or Privacy information (copied from the actual website).  However, if the email is asking for personal information, immediately be wary and do some checking.

You see, these scammer scumbags are masters of human engineering.  They use triggers to get you to do something you might not normally do.  You see a message, like this one, appearing to come from Blizzard (the makers of World of Warcraft) telling you that your account is in jeapordy.  They accuse you of trading or selling accounts; your first reaction is to panic.

"I'm not doing that!" you think.  At once, you want to rectify the situation and clear your name.

Then they hit you with the big fear factor - your account will be deleted and/or disabled if you don't act now.  The thought of losing an account - for people that have put literally hours upon hours of work into - is a frightful prospect.  The same if they are threatening to close or freeze a bank or credit card account.

Someone that does not know what to look for or does not know the scammer tricks might easily fall prey to this kind of scam.  It doesn't mean you're witless, so don't feel bad.  These mugus are masters of their craft.  They dupe people every day into giving up personal information, bank accounts, credit card numbers, etc.  The best you can do is to stay aware and learn what to look for.

For those looking for more information on this particular scam, which claims to come from Blizzard concerning a World of Warcraft (WoW) account, and for those of you that would like to know what to look for, here is the email I received:

Greetings!
It has come to our attention that you are trying to sell/trade your personal World of Warcraft account(s).
As you may or may not be aware of, this conflicts with the EULA and Terms of Agreement.
If this proves to be true, your account can and will be disabled. It will be ongoing for further investigation by Blizzard Entertainment's employees.
If you wish to not get your account suspended you should immediately verify your account ownership. If the information is deemed accurate, the investigation will be dropped.
This action is taken because we at Blizzard Entertainment take these sales
quite seriously. We need to confirm you are the original owner of the account.
This is easiest done by confirming your personal information along with concealed information about your account.
You can confirm that you are the original owner of the account by replying to this email with:

Use the following template below to verify your account and information via email.
* First and Surname
* Date of birth
* Address
* Zip code
* Phone number
* Country
* Account e-mail
* Account name
* Account password
* Secret Question and Answer
-Or-
WoW CD-Key
Show * Please enter the correct information
If you ignore this mail your account can and will be closed permanently. Once we verify your account, we will reply to your e-mail informing you that we have dropped the investigation.
We ask you to NOT change password until the investigation is fully completed.
Blizzard Entertainment Inc
Account Administration Team
P.O. Box 18979, Irvine, CA 92623
Regards,
Account Administration Team
Blizzard Entertainment

Another thing to look for - shoddy English.  Most of these scammers are overseas and English is not their native tongue.  Sometimes it's easy to catch, others it's not so obvious - but pay attention to subtle details in the grammar and word usage.  This is another tip that the email is from a scammer and is not legit.

Note that they, also, used Blizzard Entertainment's actual contact information.  Again, they will sometimes use actual text and/or images from the real company or agency's website to appear more legitimate.

If you were to respond to this email and give our your account name and password (which Blizzard will never ask for), you have just lost your WoW account.  The scammers will go in, change your password so that you cannot access it again, and then do whatever they want with it (use it for farming or sell it).

At that point, there is little you can do and that is why it is so important to pay attention to every email you receive asking for any kind of information from you.

Always be aware and alert - remember that not everything that comes through your inbox is legit and it's better to be cautious than sorry.  Trying to get your identity or account back after a scammer has stolen it is next to impossible and causes quite a lot of headache and money.  Learn what to look for and always think before hitting Reply.

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