E is for Escaping Email Scams
Crooks invade cyberspace and scam through emails. OK, that's not a news flash. But the latest kicker is this: email scammers mimic genuine, reputable, and familiar senders. Unfortunately, far too many folks are falling for these pickpocket ploys.
Here's how the email scam works.
Suppose you sign in to check your emails, and you find a notice that looks to be from your bank (say, Chase or Morgan). Or you see one sent from "PayPal," "Amazon," "AOL," or even "BubbleWS." (Fellow writer Sandra Kupper Hoffman, who also produces content for Yahoo, received a message that falsely claimed to be from them. You can read her story here.) Maybe the message says your account has been compromised, or your password needs to be changed for security purposes.
Don't click that link!
Clicking the link may invite spyware or malware into your system. It may direct you to a computer-crashing site. Or it may send you to a log-in form, asking for your screen names, passwords, and confidential information.
Don’t do it.
Follow these steps instead.
1. Click on the sender's email at the top of the message, if your email has such a capability. This displays the actual email address. Look closely at the sender’s email address. Does it look legitimate, or does it contain extra characters? Sometimes scam emails that claim to be real companies are revealed to be something like email@example.com or another generic, but certainly not official, sender.
2. Use your cursor to copy the sender’s email address. Open a new internet browser window, and paste the email address into the search bar. You may be surprised to find scam reports.
3. Next, read the email address carefully. Do you notice any glaring errors in language or grammar? Email scams (like comment spam) may be computer-generated. Odd-sounding phrasings can be a sure tip-off.
4. Finally, copy the http link provided in the email. Again, do not click the link. Hover your cursor over the link, and it should appear on the screen. Or right-click, and choose the copy option. Paste the link into the search bar on your computer browser (ideally, in another window), and see what results pop up.
5. Do not reply to an unsolicited, suspicious, or scam email. This action often puts unwitting folks on a primo promo list, inviting additional inquiries.
Generally, unexpected emails warrant extra scrutiny, even if they seem to come from recognized sources.
If you receive an email reply from a specific request you have recently made, then an email may be genuine. Otherwise, it’s always wise to check it out before clicking or responding.
If possible, report email scams and malicious messages to your internet service provider for follow-up and potential prosecution.
Don’t be scammed by unexpected emails.
From: “Everybody Does It,” by Alpert Levering
Early 20th Century
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