Watch out for this particularly clever and evil email

Yellow crime scene tape

An especially well-designed and dangerous spoof popped up in my email the other day.

It purported to be from Citibank, and said, "Your Citi Credit Card statement is ready to view online."

The email provided three fraudulent but alarming pieces of information that were intended to grab my attention.

First, it said I had a surprisingly high balance on my credit card: $2,406.73.

Then, it said I had a shockingly high minimum payment due: $1,848.41.

And finally, it said that payment was due in just three days.

“Once they have your attention, they want you to act quickly,” says Dodi Glenn, product manager for GFI Software, makers of antivirus programs.

In this case, the bad guys want you to click on one of two hyperlinks that supposedly allow you to sign up for “Payment Due reminders.”

One of the links claims to take you to “,” which is a legitimate Citibank website, but it doesn't take you there.

“They set up a link, then reroute you to a bogus location where they can get your personal information,” explains Jerry Irvine, CIO of Prescient Solutions and a member of the National Cyber Security Task Force.

That’s what this is all about — stealing your credit card number to run up big, bogus bills.

If you’re uncertain about the validity of an email such as this, hover over the hyperlinks with your curser.

Your computer will display the Web address where the link is actually taking you, not where the hyperlink claims to be taking you. If it’s not a URL you commonly use to access your bank or credit card accounts, a crook is almost certainly trying to steal your identity.

Another alternative, Irvine says, is to go to the bank’s website on your own, “enter your password and see if there is such a message waiting in your messaging center.”

Don’t see the questionable missive?

Visit the online Citibank Security Center to find a list of fraudulent emails using the bank’s name and logo, including this one.

With Citibank among the many financial institutions urging customers to switch to paperless banking and online statements, this type of scam is quite timely and, unfortunately, effective.

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