Recently, some folks brought to our attention, that Laura's Sewing Studio has been identified as a potential Phishing website. We were both aghast and gravely concerned over the accusation. You see, for those tender foot web trekkers unfamiliar with all the 21st century slang, phishing is a criminal activity. While the slang term and the tools employed are new, for those old enough to remember the days before computers, we simply called it the confidence game. Think Paul Newman and Robert Redford in The Sting. However, today's confidence men steal from you and me, instead of wealthy, unscrupulous bankers. Still, the basic approach has not really changed. The confidence man pretends to be someone he is not to solicit personal information from you, to which he has no right.
Still, should you wish to explore the dark and seedy world of Phishing, here are some websites and Internet articles with which you might start your education.
Of course, the insidiousness of today's Phishing is that it comes from many directions. These criminals use the mail, telephone, e-mail, and even face to face. However, the computer and that wonderful information highway we call the Internet, are by far the most productive tools for this activity. A criminal can sit in one country, or other part of the world, and Phish in another, leaving law enforcement authorities in both countries scratching their heads over jurisdiction and threshold for prosecution.
Most of you who take the time to read this, have some idea how a Phishing attack occurs on your computers. You get an e-mail that appears to be from a bank or credit card company with which you do business. Perhaps it's a government organization or even a plea for financial assistance or offer for a prize. The message encourages you to click on a link taking you to a very official looking website, that ultimately ask you for information about your bank accounts, pass codes, social security number, and date of birth. Of course, the real crime comes later when you discover that you're the proud owner of a dozen new credit cards, that have been maxed out, and a brand new car you've never seen, and the bills are due.
The whole idea can be quite frightening and very disheartening to a tenderfoot of the Internet. So, what should one do?
For starters, unsolicited e-mail should go in the same place that unsolicited junk mail likely goes when found in the mail box. The trash. This includes e-mails with attachments from folks you do not know. I get ten birthday card e-mails a day, all year round from people and places I don't even know. Even if the email looks official, DO NOT click on any links contained in it. Instead, go straight to the source. If the IRS sends you an e-mail advising you they owe you money – which the won't – then get 'em on the phone or type in their address directly from your web browser. Http://www.irs.gov is not hard to remember. The United States Federal Government is surprisingly efficient at shutting Phishing operations that use their name, even when those sites are outside the United States.
The next thing we can all do is stop letting these criminals use our computers. You see, it's very inefficient for a Phishing criminal to use his own computers. Instead, he prefers to use our PC's to generate all of those annoying and potential dangerous e-mails. By doing so, he can hide in the confusion and evade detection as he moves about. Have installed and professionally configured Internet Security Software onto all of your computers. I dare say you don't leave your home unlocked. Nor did you install your own home security system. The day of the shade tree mechanic is gone and so, alas, is the shade tree computer geek. However, even the best tuned security software won't keep the Phishing e-mails out of your mail, because for every person who protects her PC, there are ten folks out there who do not. Practice both precautions like a one-two punch.
So, what about the suspicious activities at Laura's Sewing Studio? At this time, the issue appears to be associated with Microsoft's Anti-Phishing program built into Windows Explorer. We have contacted Microsoft seeking an explanation as to how and why parts of our website have been deemed suspect Phishing sites. We still await an explanation as of the publication of this FAQ. If you are a user of Microsoft Internet Explorer, you might inquire of Microsoft as to how they have determined that Laura's Sewing Studio is engaged in illegal activity, as we are still trying to understand it. If other people, using other Internet browsers are seeing similar anti-phishing messages when they visit us, please feel free to contact Albert with the details. We endeavor to do whatever is possible to correct this matter.
For users of McAfee security software, you can also inquire about the integrity of our site. At least one evaluation has already been done to date.
So that you know, e-mails notices from Laura's Sewing Studio are by your request. We use the embroidery subscriber groups and the YahooGroup system to notify Laura's customers and fans about new projects, products, and events. These subscriber systems are based on the idea that you've invited us to send you notices.
Purchases through our website are handled through PayPal, which collects information necessary to complete the purchases. Purchases using PayPal use to be strictly with PayPal funds. However, in recent years the company has begun accepting debit and credit cards to complete transactions. Like us, PayPal won't be sending you e-mails asking you to click the link below to fix a problem with your account. When you get an e-mail like that, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org for investigation.
Should you call us, at no time will anyone at Laura's Sewing Studio ask for anything more than is necessary to process your orders. Even at that, you must call first. Most days we're too busy to even look up and check the weather.