Chances are that in the past month you’ve received an email in your inbox that pretends to be from your bank, e-commerce vendor, or other online site. Hopefully you’ve realized that many times these emails are fake. But some of them are so cleverly disguised, it can be difficult to distinguish scams from legitimate emails. Here’s what to look out for to avoid becoming a victim of a scam.
1. Beware of emails from social media sites
Many emails disguised as Facebook “Friend Requests” or invitations to “Join my network on Linkedin” appear to follow the regular email template, however all of the links contained within have been replaced with malicious ones. Never accept invitations from people you don’t know and do not click on links contained in these emails. Instead, login to your account to verify the legitimacy of these requests.
2. Beware of attachments
Many fake emails ask you to open attachments, which can then infect your computer with a virus or spyware. If spyware is downloaded to your computer, it can then record the keystrokes you use to log into your personal online accounts and then sends that information back to the criminal. Never open attachments in suspicious emails.
3. Beware of links
Many links are “masked,” meaning that the link you see does not take you to that address but somewhere different, usually a faked website. Other times, links contain slight alterations, for example, microsoft.com may appear as micosoft.com or microsoft1293.com. Never click on links in suspicious emails or copy them into your browser.
4. Beware of emails disguised as sales confirmations
We’ve noticed an influx of emails disguised as confirmations from PayPal, eBay and Amazon about a recent purchase on your credit card. Check your credit card statements first and don’t click on links asking you to “review your purchase” or “review shipping information”.
5. Beware of emails that ask for personal information
Some emails that appear to come from companies you do business with, will ask you to “verify” information such as username, passwords, and credit card numbers. Instead, use the phone number from one of your statements to call; do not call a number listed on the e-mail message.