Email scams, or “phishing,” are some of the most popular ways that scammers try to steal information from individuals and small businesses alike. Unfortunately for us, these scams are not always obvious and are sometimes not detected by a spam catcher. This means we have to be hyper vigilant about what we actually click on in our email inboxes, even when they appear to be from colleagues, friends, or even our boss. While we may not be able to avoid opening every email that’s malicious, we can certainly avoid doing ourselves any harm the vast majority of the time by following the tips below.
Be Aware of the Warning Signs
Sometimes there aren’t many warning signs, but we should be aware of the ones that are commonplace in the scamming world. These warning signs include, but aren’t limited to:
Misspellings and difficult to read emails
Coming from someone you don’t often email
Try to upset you with frightening information
Try to give you large sums of money
While some of these are obvious, sometimes we don’t notice one sign because we’re preoccupied with something that intrigues us. However, these are good things to think about when you do get an email.
Personal Information Over Secure Websites and Phone Calls
In addition to the above, don’t ever give out personal information or financial information over an email, even if it’s with someone you trust. Call them instead, especially if they say that it’s “urgent” you send them information that shouldn’t be sent over email anyways. When you’re conducting online transactions, try and make sure they’re over a secure connection, which is represented by an “s” after “http” in a URL. When giving personal information over a phone call, never do so unless you are the one that initiated the call in the first place, and always double-check phone numbers you call from emails against the one on a website or other public place.
Protect Your Computer Appropriately
Sometimes we fall for new email scams we haven’t seen before, and that is when it’s critical to have a properly secured and updated browser and also any sort of spam filter, firewall, and anti-virus software you can manage. All of these protect from different things, and an email scam can trigger any of them. Make sure everything is updated regularly to help fight new threats as they come out.
In general, you should be careful where you give out personal information on the Internet, as even seemingly legitimate websites can be compromised. However, it’s especially important to think before you click when it comes to emails and to try and read the warning signs so that you don’t have to depend on your computer’s protections to keep you safe.