How to Recognize eMail Scams
When reading your email or surfing the internet, everyone young and old, should always be on the alert for potential scams attempting to deceive you into revealing your personal information. The consequences could be as mild as getting spammed for eternity, a malware infection, to outright identity theft. Most of these scams are known as cyber fraud or “phishing scams” because they are virtually “fishing” for your valuable private information.
Most people think of crime as a one-way situation, but with fraud, it’s actually a crime where “you” get to decide if you want to participate or not. For example, it can be as easy to avoid as deleting a shady email instead of responding to it, or by hanging up the phone, which is what you should do if you have even the slightest bit of suspicion. But if you get caught off-guard, or want to be polite and respond to them, just remember that con artists are very talented at what they do, and they have a ready supply of excuses, explanations, and bargain jargon to mislead you away from your common sense, and then they’ll get your money before you realized what happened. Obviously, not every offer is a scam, so how do you control your suspicion about them?
How to Recognize eMail Scams
Variations of old scams and even new ones seem to appear almost every day. You can learn to spot these scams by exercising a bit of healthy skepticism and educating yourself about some of the telltale signs of an email scam below:
- Most scams are unsolicited
- Messages alarming you of threats to suspend or close an account
- Promises to receive money with little or no effort
- Offers that appear too good to be true
- Requests for donations to a charitable organization after a newsworthy disaster
- Incorrect grammar and spelling
How to Avoid Cyber Fraud
Just remember that phishing email messages are designed to steal your identity. They always ask for personal information, and will usually direct you to an official looking (but malicious) website or provide phone numbers for you to call where they will then ask for the personal information. While many people depend on their antivirus program to protect them, they don’t help much for social engineering exploits. Because of this, some cyber criminals find it easier to take advantage of human nature rather than to exploit any security holes in your software.
It Can Happen To Anybody
I have to admit that even with the internet street smarts I have acquired over the years, that once in a while, I’ll get an email with a subject line or text in the body that almost convinces me to click one of their links. Sometimes, the bait they use just happens to coincide with something I’m currently dealing with, so it was as if I was expecting that very email, so I let my guard down … for a moment. Fortunately, I’m in the habit of checking my email for the usual telltale signs of fraudulent email before I click anything. It becomes as quick and natural as checking your blind spot before changing lanes on the freeway. But if you only use your mirrors without actually looking over your shoulder, you are flirting with disaster. It only takes one careless moment to have an accident, so make it a consistent habit of yours to “always” look for the telltale signs of a fraudulent email.