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From the Actrix Online Informer July 2009

by Rob Zorn

Readers' Forum July 2009

If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send us an e-mail with the word "Forum" in the subject line. I'll try and get an answer to you by return e-mail, and will also post the answer here for the benefit of others who may have a similar question or problem. By the same token, if you read something here and think you may have something to suggest, please feel more than free. Please also note that questions and answers may also turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).

Many forum emails this month were about spam and dodgy emails. See June 09 Actrix Online Informer articles.

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Linda writes: Hi Rob, I am unable to send emails out. SMTP isn't working for me. What shall I do? I'm in NY. Thanks Linda.

Hi Linda, This is most likely what's known as a mail relaying problem and is probably happening because you are connected to an ISP other than Actrix while you're in New York, but your email program is trying to send through an Actrix sending (SMTP) server because that's what's in your settings.

Mainly to guard against spam, an ISP will only accept connections to its mail SMTP server that come to it on one of its own connections. If someone tries to connect to our sending server while connected via XYZ ISP in New York, we don't know who they are, and have no way of tracing them, so if they are sending spam, we could get into trouble or have our reputation tarnished. That's the rationale behind refusing to "relay" mail for people connected though other ISPs.

Now I'm sure you're not trying to send spam, but it's a blanket rule imposed as a safety measure. What you need to do is contact whatever ISP you're connected with over there and have them talk you through changing the SMTP server settings in your email program. Then you should be able to send fine. You can call us (0800 228749) when you come back if you need help putting the Actrix settings back in.

Another option is to use Secure SMTP which allows an ISP to verify the sender's identity before relaying the message. On the one hand this is easier as you can use the one setting regardless of whether you're at home or abroad (no need to keep changing servers settings). But this might involve installing an Actrix secure certificate or your e-mail program could badger you about it. There are instructions on how to set this up in various E-mail programs here: www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=128.

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After receiving spam that appeared to come from his own email address, Brian writes: I forward this email to you for your information and ask a few questions. How did I get this unsolicited email from someone who has latched onto my Actrix email account and advises me that my IP address has changed? I will be interested in your responses in due course.

Jono, from the Actrix help desk, responds: Hi Brian, The email you have received appearing to be from yourself is just another form of spam email. What you're seeing is commonly called "From-spoofing" – sending email that appears as if it's coming "from" someone that it's not. It's pretty easy to do. When you see your own address spoofed in the From: field of spam, it's happening for one of two reasons:

  • They're trying to spam you, and know that it's unlikely you'll block email from yourself.
  • They're trying to spam someone else, and what you're seeing is a bounce message indicating that the original spam was rejected by its intended recipient. Since the email looks like it came "from" you, you get the bounce message.
The first of the above two scenarios is what is happening in this particular case. Unfortunately there isn't really a lot that can be done to counter this sort of spam, and is not something you need to get too worried about unless you are receiving large amounts of them, in which case please let us know.

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Tjalling writes: Hi, Not sure what you think of the attached email, but I believe it to be one of these scams. You want to have a look and perhaps, if found to be a scam, warn others? It was fully accepted by my Norton package which, far too often, classifies e-mails from legit people as spam. I hope this is of some help. Cheers.

Hi Tjalling, I think I know what to make of it. On the surface, they appear to be offering you a loan on very easy terms. They don't ask for your password, of course, but they do ask for an awful lot of personal information in the online application questions they include. I'm fairly certain this is not a legitimate loan offer, but the first step towards identity fraud or eventually getting access to your bank account.

Aeon Credit Company does exist, but I doubt this email really comes from them. The reply email address is not an one from Aeon, and a legitimate finance company would not send out unsolicited emails offering loans. Quite simply, reputable companies don’t use spam as a way of marketing. Most sensible internet users wouldn't respond to such an offer from a company they’ve never heard of based in Malaysia. I think these crooks are probably posing as Aeon, and targeting people who have unmanageable debts. By offering cheap and easy term loans, these people, who may not be thinking clearly or who could be feeling desperate, may be tempted to respond with their personal details.

No doubt, if they do, they will find themselves in ever worse financial trouble eventually. It's a pretty despicable thing to do. Thanks for sending this one in.

 

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