How To Identify Email Scams And Protect Your Information
Every email provider uses several technologies to identify and filter out spam or potential scams. However, some emails may make it past those barriers. To add more confusion, you know that some emails from people you trust or know may be sent to your spam box. This may make you wonder if some of the marketing emails in your spam box do not belong there. These tips will help you identify potential email scams, phishing attempts or other online fraud dangers.
Look Beyond the Display Name
The sender’s display name may be fictitious. For example, one company that is commonly the target of spoofing or phishing is PayPal. You may get an email that says it is from the company. However, if you mouse over or click on the sender’s name, you may see that the email address does not have the PayPal domain. Always check the sender’s email address. In some cases, email addresses can be spoofed as well. If you are unsure, pull up the email header. Each provider has different ways for users to see headers. Find out how to pull up a header with your email provider. If the address in the header does not match the sender’s address, it is a spoofed message.
Look for Spelling and Grammar Errors
Although any major company could send an email with an overlooked text error, most scams have multiple errors. The sentences often sound awkward as well. Big companies usually employ educated people with superb English skills, and email outlines often go through several proofreading phases before they are finalized and sent.
Check for Threats or Indications of Urgency
No reputable company will threaten you by email for any reason. Established companies would never risk their reputation by doing that. Also, they use a more sales-oriented approach. For example, if a major retailer sends you an email about a promotion, the company may tell you to hurry to participate in an online sale that will only last a few days. This is normal. However, if a sender asks you to reply to the email directly, it is likely a scam. A big company may send you an exclusive deal that will be applied if you click the link to its e-commerce site. Be aware that some phishers may try to spoof similar emails.
See if the Sender Requires Personal Information
Most scam artists will try to lure you away from your inbox to visit a website. However, some banking scam emails may instruct you to click a link to a page that mimics the financial institution’s page. If you enter your personal information or login credentials, the site owner can steal them to access your information with that organization. While some banks and financial companies put legitimate links in their emails, you should always treat financial emails with extra caution.
How to Protect Your Information
When you visit major websites often by clicking email links, it is easy to feel reassured by security logos. However, no site is truly secure. If you use a credit monitoring program and shop online often, you may have been notified that your information was in one or more data breaches. Marriott, TJX, Target and even Equifax are just a few entities that have had major data breaches. It is nearly impossible to prevent your data from appearing in a breach at some point. However, you can keep your personal information safer from phishers and banking scam artists online by following these tips:
- If you get an email from a financial institution that asks you to sign in via a link, visit the official site in another tab.
- If a financial institution sends you an email urging you to take some form of action, call the institution to ask about the email.
- Encrypt important emails if possible.
- Do not click links or download attachments in emails.
- Do not put personal information on your linked social media accounts.
- Use a good security program that scans all emails and attachments thoroughly.
Today, many law enforcement agencies are cracking down harder on online fraud. Also, most banks and cashless payment organizations have programs to detect scams and alert the public. If you get a spoofed email, alert the financial institution that is being impersonated. With combined efforts from law enforcement and vigilant individuals, everyone can work together to make it harder for dishonest people to carry out email scams.