Thursday, June 7, 2012

Troubling Phishing Scam- Updated November 2015

© Pilibosian

There have been a lot of scam, phishing, and hacking incidents over the last few months, most recently with today’s announcement that LinkedIn had 6.5 million passwords stolen. What’s fascinating about a lot of these is that they are perpetrated via email, and these email scams look totally real.

I had one that was really chilling last month. About 3 weeks ago, I received a text message at 8am from my bank asking me if I had just made a purchase in the amount of $50.00 from a direct marketing company. Those of you know me know that I was sleeping at that hour, so I texted back to tell them “no.” They told me there would be someone from the fraud department calling me immediately. As I waited, I checked my email and saw another fraud alert come in via email. Turns out, 4 separate transactions had been made that morning. The first one was only for $1, and the others totaled around $200. (I could only imagine that the $1 charge was a test to see if the purchase would go through.) I checked my wallet and saw that my card was there, so the debit card number had to have been taken from somewhere online. Luckily, I called the number on the back of my card and spoke with the fraud department at my bank, had the charges reversed, canceled my card, and got a new card ordered. I was also able to stop by the local branch and get a temporary card while I waited for the new one to arrive. It was very easy, and I was very relieved.

A few days later, I received an email from what looked like my bank at the email address they have on file for me. The email said that the fraud investigation had been started, and I just needed to click a link to login and download the fraud report documents. Here’s the exact text of the email:

Welcome to the Chase Customer Claims Secure Document Exchange.You recently contacted Chase regarding your claim number 083968193080001. Your documents are available for your review.

Per our telephone conversation, you will need to register to our secure website by clicking on the link below or copy and paste the link into your browser’s address bar.
Your user name is
Your initial password is: 4Fc4dC7K (you will need to change this on first login). 
On your first log in, you will be required to select a new password. NOTE: This site is different from and passwords are not related. Updating your password on Chase Customer Claims Secure Document Exchange will have no impact on established passwords.

Once registered, you will be able to access your customer correspondence on our secure website. You may be offered the option to complete and sign the form online if you wish to do so.
Thank you for using Chase Customer Claims Secure Document Exchange.
To contact Chase for claim related questions or to withdraw your claim, please call 1-866-564-2262.

Seems innocent enough, right? But guess what? This email was not from Chase.

Most likely, this is from the same folks who stole my debit card number.

The first red flag was that they openly said, "This site is different than” And, true enough - they were sending from an email address with the domain “” If you go to their website, you get forwarded to “,” a professional looking website that describes them as a secure document exchange service. But then, if you notice, the link they asked me to click is for a completely different domain. The fact that these two domains didn’t match made me concerned.

The second red flag was the email saying I had documents to review. I figured that if this were true, the person on the phone (when I reported the fraud) would have told me to be on the look out for documents. And if not, then the person at the branch (where I got my temporary card) would have mentioned it. It seems to me that if a customer is defrauded, a business would go to great lengths to make sure that further communication removes any possibility of fraud. This email was a surprise, and that in itself raised a red flag.

The third red flag was that they said I would need to change my password immediately upon logging in, and mentioned that my password here would have no bearing on my password at my bank. I found this to be odd and my Spidey sense went on overdrive. I’m sure that what victims do, to make things easy, is change their password to the same password they use at their bank. If I had clicked the link and done what they said, most likely they would have been able to get into my bank account directly and completely wiped me out.

So, I did some Googling, and I found something startling - this scam has been reported as far back as 2009.

So, I forwarded the email to Chase (their website says suspicious emails should be sent to to see if it was truly from them, and the stock response I received said that it was, in fact, a scam. Here’s what they said:

Thank you for sending us this e-mail. We have received multiple copies of this message and have already forwarded it to our fraud department for additional investigation. Although the e-mail appears to be from Chase, it is not. It has been designed by fraudsters with the intent to trick you into providing private information about yourself and your accounts. This is known as “phishing,” and the number of people who fall victim to this scam is unfortunately rising.

If you have responded to the e-mail with any information please call us immediately using the number on the back of your card, on your statement or from the “Contact Us” link on It is not our practice to:

- Send e-mail that requires you to enter personal information directly into the e-mail
- Send e-mail threatening to close your account if you do not take the immediate action of providing personal information
- Send e-mail asking you to reply by sending personal information

You should never reply to, click or enter any information if you receive a suspicious e-mail.

We actively investigate each of these attempts and work hard to stop any further unauthorized e-mails from being sent. Although we did not send the e-mail, please know that we regret any inconvenience or concern it may have caused you.

Thank you, E-mail Customer Service Representative

Sounds good, right? BUT -- the reply came from this email address “Abuse <>.” I checked that domain name, and it comes up a dead link. Not to say, of course, that this email is a fraud too, but I’m a little tired of getting emails from websites that are NOT from my bank’s domain name. Better safe than sorry, I checked their website again and found an alternate address to mail to ( wrote to them asking for a personal reply rather than a stock reply, so that I can make sure that this response is legit. I’ll let you know what I find. [UPDATE June 20: Chase's response above was legitimate - which I confirmed by phone.]

The thing that's scary is -- somehow, the person who stole my card number also had my email address -- the same address I had on file at the bank. They have such a complete scam going - they knew I would get the card canceled when I noticed the charges. Any normal person would have clicked the link in the email -- I just happen to be more careful and detailed than most so I avoided that catastrophe.

I decided that my only real recourse is to post this information, in full, so that you all can be aware of this scam and, possibly, avoid it. If you have had any problems like this, or with this exact scam, please leave a comment below so that those who are researching this scam can learn your story.

UPDATE: June 20, 2015

So, this is really odd. If you scroll down and read the comments you'll notice that on June 17 an anonymous person lambasts me for posting this warning on my blog. (Go ahead and read it now -- I'll wait.) I ended up having to delete some of his comments because they were becoming more and more incendiary. But that's not the odd part. The odd part is the less than 24 hours later, MY CHASE DEBIT CARD WAS STOLEN AGAIN. 

The same thing happened - I got a text, email and phone message from a Chase asking me if 2 recent transactions wrre mine. When I called the number on the back of my card we confirmed that my card had been compromised. This time I was forearmed and forewarned and I asked the fraud department if they would be sending me an email from a document exchange asking me to fill out an electronic form on the exchange website. He told me unequivocally that THEY WILL NOT SEND AN EMAIL ASKING FOR PERSONAL INFORMATION TO BE GIVEN. 

But sure enough - today I received the EXACT same email from the Document Exchange requesting my private information to be entered into a website. QUELLE SURPRISE. 

Now, it may be some kind of voodoo-like coincidence that my card was stolen one day after some anonymous editor person rants on my blog trying to get me to stop researching shady and fraudulent practices. But I'm grateful - because it forced me to ask point blank questions of my bank to be perfectly clear what their procedures are and which are fraudulent. 

No matter what kind of anonymous person wants to convince us that our due diligence is problematic, KEEP GOING. I want to commend you on doing your research and reading this far. Please continue to post your experiences below so that other people can benefit. 


Now- after doing some research I do see that the original response I got from may have been from their company (albeit not as transparently as makes sense.) But I recommend that you actually get a rep on the phone using the number in the back of your card, which will guarantee that you are speaking with someone authentically from Chase.

UPDATE: June 23, 2015

I just received a second email from "Chase" - here it is with the long headers first:
To: Erin Cronican
Received: from (unknown []) by ismtpd-050 (SG) with ESMTP id 14e22cc884e.10dc.108068 for ; Tue, 23 Jun 2015 23:41:46 +0000 (UTC)

Subject: Chase Customer Claims Secure Document Exchange Password Hint
The Chase Customer Claims Secure Document Exchange password hint that you provided for the registered User Name is below.
Password hint: 'password is 4Fc4dC7K'.
If this hint has helped you to remember your password, then please login by clicking this link
User Name: 
If you still can't remember your password, then please click this link and you will be emailed a new one. 
To contact Chase for claim related questions or to withdraw your claim, please call 1-866-564-2262.

I did some research on the phone number they say is for Chase claims, and I found this fascinating legal claim against a company called "Star Cash Processing" - But I have seen the phone number also listed within the depths of Chase's website, so it's hard to know what's legitimate.

This situation is getting weirder and weirder - I'm just now noticing that the "password" they gave me in the 2012 and the 2015 emails were exactly the same. It makes the comments I got a few days ago that much more disturbing.

UPDATE July 8, 2015

Since mid-June when my card was most recently compromised, I have gotten EIGHT (8) copies of this exact email sent to me, over and over again, telling me to download these fraudulent documents. They are relentless!

UPDATE August 5, 2015

Since my last post I have received no fewer than 20 more copies of a new email, this time telling me that my password has been changed. Funny, though - the "new" password is exactly the same as the old password: To: Erin Cronican
Chase Customer Claims Secure Document Exchange Temporary Password
Your Chase Customer Claims Secure Document Exchange password for the registered Email ID has been changed to
Please login by clicking here and carefully entering your registered Email ID and the password above (note that you will be required to choose a new password upon logging in).
To contact Chase for claim related questions or to withdraw your claim, please call 1-866-564-2262. 

UPDATE November 3, 2015

Since my last post I have received no less than 1 email PER DAY (and sometimes 2-3 within the same hour) with the exact same message as above (offering me a new password to login, though its' the same as every password they have ever sent to me.)

In other news, see below for several more anonymous commenters trying to convince us that this scam is legitimate.

UPDATE November 4, 2015

Wouldn't you know it?! After several years of receiving the exact same email message from this "secure-dx" company, the very next day after battling with a commenter (see below) I receive a brand new message from them, telling me my password has been changed and they're giving me a new one. And it actually IS a new password, not like in the hundreds of messages I've received in the past where my new password is the same as the old one they gave me.

It may be a coincidence that their communications made a sudden change the day after these comment exchanges, but after so many years of the same message over and over, a coincidence doesn't really feel like the right description. It feels like I'm being watched. This seems especially so because of how many anonymous posts are from people swearing the secure-dx is legitimate, but they never answer my specific questions nor reveal who they are. Are they a part of the fraud and they're trying to make sure that my readers view them as safe?

Again, do your due diligence and you should be just fine. After all of this, nothing severe has happened to me. Chase has been great about returning any money that has been stolen and getting a new card issued has been only an inconvenience.

I'd like to hear from you. Please share your experiences in the comments section so everyone can learn from what you've seen & heard!

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit

Thursday, May 31, 2012

An Ode To My Father

My dad passed away February 1, 2006, and this time of year always brings up a ton of memories. First, because his birthday was May 26. Second, because Father’s Day is coming up, and third, because he was in the military, and though he wasn’t lost in battle Memorial Day always held such a reverent place in our household.

Last year, I wrote An Ode To My Mom on Mother’s Day. Some of you have wondered about the other half of my parentage, especially given that I don't really look like my mom. :)

I've already written a post about my dad called, "Words To Love By," but I thought it might be fun to revive the idea of my mom's post to introduce you more deeply to my dad.

75 Facts About My Dad

1.         I gave my dad the nickname, Pappy, long, long ago. He signed off letters, cards and emails that way to me until the day he died.

2.         He was definitely the #1 Member of the Erin Cronican Fan Club.

3.         He retired from the Air Force as a full Colonel after 25.5 years of service.

4.         He hair turned fully grey in his late 20s. I never knew him with his naturally dark hair.

5.         He was 6’2”, but he always described himself as 5’14”.

6.         He thought he was really funny. (See #5)

7.         He used to pull up to stop lights pulsing the brakes of the car to the beat of the music.

8.         His favorite singer/artist was Rod Stewart.

9.         Every time I would call home and he’d pick up the phone, I’d say, “Hi, it’s me,” and he’d exclaim, “Hello, Me!”

10.         For breakfast, he loved sunny side up eggs with ketchup, and he would use a spoon to scoop out the contents of the yolk in little, bitty segments. I think he loved to savor it.

11.         My dad worked at NATO in Belgium, as well as NORAD within Cheyenne Mountain (think: War Games)

12.         Every Father’s Day for about the last 10 years of his life, I took him on a Father-Daughter trip to see a San Diego Padres game.

13.         Each time we went to a game, he’d point at the advertisements for Carvel ice cream and say, “Do you know where that’s from?”

14.         Carvel originated in Yonkers, NY - where he was born.

15.         My father and I never got a chance to be in New York together. I moved here in August 2005; he died 6 months later.

16.         He once severely injured himself by jumping over the net on a tennis court.

17.         Before a car accident injured his back, he used to be an amazing (perhaps pro-level) golfer.

18.         He owned a fountain pen and liked to write in a sort of calligraphy.

19.         He fancied himself the master of other languages, including German, French and Spanish. He would often try to talk to us in these languages and invariably mix up which language he was speaking mid-sentence, which always cracked us up.

20.         After each member of the family had a dog to call their own, he finally got his own dog: a pocket sized poodle** named Molly, who was the sole litter from our dogs Roger and Rosie. She was a surprise litter, so he nicknamed her "Spuppers" (short for surprise puppy.)

21.         **This is funny because he always talked about wanting to have a “man’s” dog, like a German Shepherd.

22.         I taught him the wonders of the Kahlua and Cream cocktail.

23.         He absolutely loved sitting outdoors after work, watching the sunset over the valley.

24.         Every night he made gin martinis with lemon peel, which he would peel off in small sections with a special little tool. I don’t remember him ever using the lemons, only the peel.

25.         He used to always say, “No one can ever embarrass you. You can only embarrass yourself.” He would normally say this after doing something really embarrassing.

26.        My father and I shared a very similar, corny sense of humor, with lots of innuendo and word play.
Let's not talk about the overalls. 
27.         I don’t think he missed a single performance I had, until I moved to NYC. This includes a cabaret at a gay piano bar in San Diego. You've never seen a father's face turn so red. 

28.         His favorite sports team was the Redskins. Yankees were second. Chargers & Padres tied for third.

29.         He, somehow and wonderfully, loved the “Les Mis” and “Phantom of the Opera” Broadway Cast Albums.

30.         He loved, loved, loved creamy food - ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese, cream sauces, etc.

31.         He had really pale skin with bright pink overtones, like me.

32.         He held two degrees - in engineering and business administration.

33.         He was a die-hard PC fan, and constantly poked fun at me for being a die-hard Mac user.

34.         Unlike other parents who wanted their kids to be doctors or lawyers, he always wanted me to be in sales.

35.         After visiting home, my dad would walk me to my car and stand in the driveway watching me until I drove away. That was my last memory of him alive (December 30, 2005.)

36.         He had this funny way of standing, with his legs spread more than shoulder width apart and his arms crossed - my guess being that it helped him with back pain.

37.         When I was in high school, my family went to an old movie set/tourist attraction called Old Tucson in Arizona. My mom, dad and I decided to get an "Old West" portrait taken where we got dressed up. You can totally see our personalities in the photo. 

Dad (gregarious), Mom (hates having her photo taken), Erin (melodramatic actor)
38.         When he died, we got an outpouring of emails from old colleagues and classmates who described him as a mentor, confidant, and dear friend.

39.         He LOVED Italian food. Especially linguine with butter and garlic.

40.         He was a pretty good tennis player, but he had a terrible temper. McEnroe, eat your heart out.

41.         As far as gift giving, he would always say, “I only want two things: A porsche, and good kids. And since I’m not getting either of those, I don’t need anything.” Ha ha.

42.         He was extremely gregarious and loved to talk to strangers.

43.         He was ultra-conservative, politically. Ultra. Conservative.

44.         Death to anyone who stood in front of the TV when a game was on. “Down in front!” was a common warning.

45.         He would always choose the green playing piece when playing games.

46.         He was a pretty volatile person when he was younger but started to mellow as he aged. Yelling was replaced with a calm, “That is not appropriate,” which kind of made us giggle.

47.         He worked in the field of electronic & information security most of his life, but being adept at common electronics completely eluded him.

48.         He joked that he had a religious typing style - “Seek, and ye shall find.”

49.         He had this huge dictionary with indented tabs for each letter. He also had 3 shelves full of National Geographics. (I wrote most of my school paper on topics that could be found in those, because those were the pre-internet days.)

50.         When decorating the Christmas tree, my mom and brother would hand the ornaments and my father and I would string all of the lights. 

51.         He’d sometimes crack himself up with his own jokes, and his laughing would make his face turn red.

52.         He wore two rings that he never took off - his wedding band and his class ring from Manhattan College. When he died, my mother gave me my dad's class ring and my brother Sean his wedding band. 

53.         He was incredibly independent and, like many men in his generation, refused to talk about his feelings.

54.         Before undergoing triple bypass surgery 2003, he did express one regret: “I wish I had instilled more of a sense of pride in your Irish heritage, like what was shared with me as a child.”

55.         He had the same name as his father (who I never met.)

56.         He really loved telling blonde jokes, probably because neither his wife nor daughter were natural blondes and he knew he could get away with it.

57.         He was opinionated and idealistic, which made his bosses either love him or hate him. I inherited that trait, and I've learned to love it.

58.         The last physical moment we had together was me stroking his hand while on life support. I will never forget how soft his fingers here, yet his hands still felt strong to me.

59.         He gave great hugs.

60.         If he were to come to a show of mine, it was guaranteed by the end of the night that he would have told everyone around him that he was my dad.

61.         After he passed away we went to his office to clean out his desk and take home personal effects. On his wall he’d hung my acting postcard and a promotional card from when I did “The Last Five Years."

This was one of the walls of my dad's cubicle. 

62.         He was really, really smart.

63.         I made him a huge batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies for almost every birthday. He was a Gemini.

64.         He had the ultimate white man’s overbite when dancing.

65.         We went on a weeklong father-daughter trip to Europe after I graduated from college.

66.         His nickname for me was, “The Kid.”

67.         He used to always joke that we all talked so much at the dinner table and he “could never get a word in edgewise. There are foot prints on my tongue.”

68.         He refused to let people touch his hair.

69.         He liked to answer the phone in funny voices when my friends would call.

70.         He took up stamp and coin collecting after his mother passed away and he inherited them. When he died, I asked to take them.

My family's going away party, before moving to NYC.
71.         He used to joke that if I didn’t get my act together, he’d take me out of the will. But it turned out to be a bigger joke than that - because I was never actually in the will to begin with. After he died, we discovered that he rewrote his will when he married my mother, but had not revised it since having children with her. (Oops.)

72.         For my Sweet 16, he bought me Dr Laura’s “Ten Stupid Things Women Do To Mess Up Their Lives.” (See #43.)

73.         He liked to wear short shorts. And they got shorter and shorter the older he got. (I know.)

74.         He would always ask me to be his Valentine.

75.         He was a student of life and incredibly inspirational. After he died, my mother gave me this card that he had written:

I love you, Pappy, and I miss you. Thank you for making me who I am today.

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Physical Reality

Does laughing count as exercise?
I talked a little bit last week, in my re-entry into blogging, that one of the things I committing to is a better regimen of taking care of my body. It’s not just because I’m “supposed” to, and it’s not just because I’ll be shooting love scenes this summer and need to be in top shape (though, now that I typed that, I think that should be a top reason.)

I’m committing to caring for my body because there are all kinds of signals tugging at my shirt sleeves, begging for my attention:

• Friends of my mother are being rushed to the hospital, and/or are dying unexpectedly. 
• I’m starting to “feel” old. As in, sitting cross-legged for a few hours results in me looking like a comedy act when I try to stand up. 
• My boyfriend (aka The Boy) is extremely athletic, and can eat whatever he wants. I want to keep up. 
• I feel in better mental health when I’m paying attention to wellness. not because of endorphins (though I’m sure those help) but because I’m at cause rather than a victim of my circumstances, which makes me feel powerful. 
• As an actor, I work for Mount Sinai Medical School as a standardized patient, and playing characters who are ill patients is a HUGE wakeup call to take care of my health. 
• My father died of a heart attack in 2006, so there are at least some risk factors for heart disease.

• I drink a fair amount of alcohol, and don’t really want to stop - and those are some seriously empty calories.

• I also like cheese. Lots of cheese. And bread.

The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.

So, I’ll share with you what I’ve been doing as a way of keeping myself motivated to (somehow) have you, my precious readers, hold me accountable:

• I run every other day with The Boy. I don’t run that far yet, only about 1.75-2 miles per run, but I can always increase my frequency or distance when desired. (I used to be a distance runner when I was younger - how many of you knew that?!?) 
• I walk as often as possible rather than taking subway connections.

• I take the stairs instead of escalators. I love stairs. It’s weird. 
• I’m looking into more fun activities that involve my body (that’s not dirty at all.) I’m a huge fan of dance classes but am on a limited budget, so I’m looking for music venues with dance floors to get my groove on.

As far as diet goes, I have an approach that’s oddly successful for me: I eat the healthiest thing I can stand to eat every time I have a meal. Normally that means: no meat, low salt, lots of fruit or veggies, lower fat, etc. This removes any guilt from having the food I love (cheesesteak, nachos, booze) because I have it only when I don’t want anything healthier on the menu. And, believe it or not, the law in NYC that makes chain restaurants reveal their calorie counts has been enormously helpful in my managing my health.

With drinking, The Boy and I are attempting to trim back our drinking to every other day rather than every day. Those of you who are not in NYC may not realize how difficult this is. When I lived in San Diego, drinking was tempered by the fact that I was a safe and conscientious driver and would only drive when sober. That limited how often and how much I would drink. In NYC, most business meetings and social gathering center around alcohol, so I find myself drinking most of my days calories without even knowing I’m doing it.

Funny story - last night, The Boy and I were grabbing a late night bite to eat at an Irish pub, and the guy next to me asked me from where I was visiting. I said I lived here, and he seemed surprised. He later revealed that he saw a glass of water sitting in front of me but no booze, and said that only tourists drink water at bars, because they forget that they don’t have to drive. Yep. That’s the culture we live in here.

How are you addressing your health? Any ideas that you can share with me to make my quest more fun or fruitful?

Have a comment or question? Leave it by clicking below!

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has toured nationally with plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. For more information, please visit

The Fine Print

All content in this here blog is released under a Creative Commons by-NC-ND license. That means you're free to share it, republish it, refer to it, include it in your wedding vows, whatever... PROVIDED you

a) credit me (with my name, my blog's name, and a link back to my site- displayed at the top of the blog)
b) you don't change anything
c) you don't use it to make money.

To view the license, click here. To learn more about Creative Commons, click here.

Popular Posts

Top Blogs Acting blogs & blog posts Arts Directory for New York, New York
Blog Directory & Search engine Blog Directory My BlogCatalog BlogRank
Follow the erin cronicals