Google AdWords: Don’t Click That Link!

Writing by Pay Per Click Journal on Sunday, October 12, 2008 Comments (2)

I’ve been seeing a lot of phishing e-mails from Google AdWords pay per click advertising lately. The subject line of the e-mail reads:

Please re-submit your payment information.

And it comes from a no-reply e-mail address associated with the Google AdWords name. It looks official. Let me assure you, it’s not. If you get one, delete it and don’t click the link. Here’s what you ‘ll see in the body of the e-mail:

Hello,

Our attempt to charge your credit card for your
outstanding Google AdWords account balance was declined.
Your account is still open. However, your ads have been suspended. Once
we are able to charge your card and receive payment for your account
balance, we will re-activate your ads.

Please update your billing information, even if you plan to use the
same credit card. This will trigger our billing system to try charging
your card again. You do not need to contact us to reactivate your
account.

To update your primary payment information, please follow these steps:

1. Log in to your account at http://adwords.google.com/select.
2. Enter your primary payment information.
3. Click ‘Update’ when you have finished.

Thank you for advertising with Google AdWords. We look forward to
providing you with the most effective advertising available.

The Google AdWords Team

—————————————————————–
This message was sent from a notification-only email address that does
not accept incoming email. Please do not reply to this message. If you
have any questions, please visit the Google AdWords Help Centre
————————————————————-

Let me outline the ways that I know this is a phishing scam.

  1. For starters, any e-mail that begins “Hello” is suspect. While I’ve received correspondence from Google AdWords that begins this way, I’d cast suspicion on any e-mail that begins with “Hello”, particularly from a company that I’ve been doing business with for a while. I’d expect them to address me by name or call me a valued customer or something of that nature.
  2. That first sentence was a dead give away. Since I had cut off my ad campaigns and had no outstanding balance I really didn’t think Google AdWords was going to try to use my credit card.
  3. Reputable companies not ask you to resubmit your credit card information to “trigger” their system to charge your card again. Companies automatically try to charge credit cards several times before notifying you that they cannot do so.
  4. Google is a U.S. company. Why then does the footer at the end of the e-mail spell “Help Centre” the British way? Dead giveaway. This phishing e-mail was likely originated somewhere in the UK
  5. Blumenthals received the same e-mail.

I really appreciate Mike Blumenthal going through the trouble to show us screenshots of the fake Google landing pages for this phishing scam. There are other e-mails with different subject lines trying to do the same thing. You may see the following subject lines:

Account Reactivation
Please Re-activate your account
Update Your Billing Information

These are all phishing scams. Don’t click the links.

Comments (2)                      Category: Google Adwords                      

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2 Comments

Comment by Understanding Google Maps and Yahoo Local Search

Made Sunday, 12 of October , 2008 at 8:14 am

Hi Brick-

British English (re “centre” spelling) is commonly taught throughout Europe, East Africa and Asia. For what its worth, the header on the email indicated that it originated from an IP address in the Netherlands. So while we can assume that they were not native American English speakers, they were not necessarily from the UK.

Mike Blumenthal

Comment by Stever

Made Sunday, 12 of October , 2008 at 1:26 pm

The biggest dead giveaway on phishing emails is when you mouse over any links and you see a fishy (phishy?) looking domain in there.

Whenever I get an “official” looking email from Paypal, my bank, or anywhere I have an account tied to financial info I look at the links before I even finish reading the email.

The example Mike showed had this in the link URL = vfikj.cn

Being in Canada I may not have picked up on the “centre” vs “center” spelling part.

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