Email may be a great way to communicate, but scam artists have made sifting through email a real pain. Unfortunately, there is no end in sight to all the email fraud since scammers have found email to be quite a moneymaker for them. Email scams can be as unoriginal as bait and switch tactics to the very devious phishing scams, where victims are tricked into giving out personal information. Learn how to recognize these scams so that you won’t be a victim.
- Take precautions with emails from unknown and unsolicited sources. Be cautious when you receive an email from an address or name you do not recognize, according to the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team, a part of the Department of Homeland Security. Do not click the links in these messages.
- Learn the 10 most common email frauds. They are bogus business opportunities, chain letters, work-at-home schemes, health and diet scams, easy money, free goods, investment opportunities, bulk email schemes, cable descrambler kits and guaranteed loans or credit.
- Discover how to recognize a phishing email. These emails are meant to look like they came from a legitimate company that you do business with. They either trick victims into going to a bogus website, where they will then download viruses on your computer, or they get you to reveal personal information. Many phishing emails pretend to be from your financial institution. Most financial institutions have instituted policies against asking for personal information through emails. Be skeptical of any that do.
- Be aware of the Trojan horse email. These emails offer something you may be interested in, such as an invitation or a joke. When you open the attachment, this installs software that can monitor your keystrokes or online activity.
- Install antivirus software. In case you do open a bad email, antivirus software may be able to protect your computer. Some bad emails do not require you to click on the link in order to deliver the virus.
- Use a spam filter. You can configure your email to filter spam. Consult the help file for your email application to configure it properly.
- Use your common sense. If you get an email that promises you lots of money for very little effort, invites you to grab unclaimed property that involves people from another country, or tells you that there is a problem with your bank account, be warned that these are probably scams.