Scam Alert: “DFAS” Phishing Email

Posted by Charlotte Webster

Military people are generally honest, straightforward people. We expect our words to be taken at face value, and we tend to project the same trustworthiness on other people. And unfortunately, we have too often fallen for a number of scams and shady practices.

One of the most common scams in the internet age is phishing: This is the practice of sending emails or other communications designed to dupe the victim into either sending money to the crooks, or into sending them confidential personal information. The crooks then use that information to open up fraudulent credit accounts in your name, or even raid your bank accounts and retirement accounts directly – leaving you with an empty shell.

Recent Scam Targeted DFAS Customers

For example – late in 2011, a number of military families reported receiving an email communication with the subject line, “Fwd: Payment Approval.” The email contained a Department of Defense seal (anyone can cut and paste a seal into their email), as well as something that appeared to be a case number from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service.

If you took a closer look at the email, though, you would discover that the return address didn’t go to a “*.mil” domain at all. Instead, the return email went to dfas@yahoo.ca.

Some variations of Phishing will redirect the victim to a convincing mockup of a genuine legitimate website. Some of the fakes are quite elaborate. The victim may know not to send sensitive personal information directly via email. But clicking on an emailed link may provide the victim with a false sense of security. The victim then enters the sensitive information directly onto the Web page.

Another version advises the service member to open an attached file. However, the file is really a virus that attacks the computer and allows the virus’s creator to access stored passwords and other sensitive information stored on the computer’s hard drive.
If the computer is on a network, other computers on the network could be targeted as well. In extreme cases, this could mean a major network security breach.

This is a screaming red flag, say DFAS officials. Indeed, DFAS recently reaffirmed its strict email policy:

  • DFAS will never send you an unsolicited email requesting your password, account numbers, or any other potentially sensitive information.
  • DFAS will never call you asking for that information, or simply to ‘update our records,” or “validate our database.” 
  • DFAS will not send you an email attachment you have not specifically asked for.

This policy was specifically adopted by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. However, the vast majority of reputable, legitimate financial institutions will have similar policies in place. Never respond to an unsolicited email, text or cell phone communication by providing sensitive information.

If You Get Phished

If you do receive a phishing email, take the following actions:

  • Report the email to the agency or company getting spoofed
  • Forward the email to spam@uce.org.
  • Send the email to reportphishing@antiphishing.org.

If you think you fell for the scam, file a report with the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

If the compromise involves a military computer, notify your unit leadership, S-6 or DOIMS (Department of Information Management Services) office immediately.

 

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