One type of email fraud involves people who send you emails that look like they are from a legitimate company, such as a major shopping website or bank. The email claims there is a problem with your account and asks you to click a link to go to a form that requests information about you and your account. To keep from falling from this type of scam never click on a link within an email, since these sometimes bring you to bogus websites that look very similar to the real websites of companies. Always type in the company’s email address yourself. Most legitimate companies would never ask for you to send them sensitive data this over email, so this is often a sign of a scam. These companies are doing what is called phishing, trying to get you to give them the information they need to pose as you and use your accounts to get money or products.
Another type of email fraud involves people claiming that if you send them a small amount of money they will send you a much larger amount of money. Often these people claim to be from an African country, such as Nigeria. Think of this along the lines of “if it sounds too good to be true, it is.” If you send them the money they are asking for, you will never see it again, or the promised large payout.
Other email fraud schemes also involve potential benefits that sound too good to be true. These include scams that claim supplements or products will cure you of various disease or health conditions, help you lose weight without dieting or exercise, or allow you to make large amounts of money over the internet from home. These types of offers are all scams, so don’t fall for them.
If you get an email offering you computer software for amazingly low prices, it is most likely a scam. If you get the software and it seems to work, it is most likely illegal pirated copies of the software, and it will usually include viruses that allow the perpetrators of the scam access to your computer.
Sometimes you get emails that have attachments that contain dangerous viruses. These may be disguised as jokes, funny pictures or other items that you really want to look for. They may also just be random emails from a friend or acquaintance’s actual email address that were generated by a virus. Virus-generated emails usually contain no subject and often only contain a link or attachment that the perpetrators of the scam are hoping you will click on out of curiosity. Save yourself from grief and potential damage to your computer by not clicking on any links in emails and not opening any attachments that come from people you don’t know. Even when an email comes from a friend, you should check to see if they actually sent you the attachment if you weren’t expecting it and it looks suspicious.
Emails that claim you have won a lottery you never even entered are also a type of email fraud. If you don’t remember entering a contest, you probably didn’t and the email is just a method to get sensitive information out of you that can be used to loot your bank accounts.
Some people also hijack Craigslist or Ebay accounts and get your money through offering you a second chance at a product that you bid on but did not get. They take your money and then you never get the product, or they purchase a product from you and then their payment doesn’t clear after you have sent out the product. Make sure that payments made to you from these sites are deposited before you send out products, and do not fall for second chance offers.
Taking a few simple steps can help protect you from email fraud.
- Don’t open emails or attachments from people you do not know or unsolicited offers from organizations, individuals or companies.
- Use a spam filter. Most email providers offer these filters, which greatly decrease the amount of spam you receive in your inbox.
- Use an antivirus software. Many will warn you if you are about to open a website, attachment or email that contains a virus, and get rid of any viruses that happen to make it onto your computer.
- Keep in mind that if a deal sounds to good to be true it probably is, and don’t expect to get something for nothing. Offering these kinds of deals is one of the main ways email fraud perpetrators get sensitive information and money from their victims.
- Install a firewall. This type of program helps alert you to potential viruses, along with your antivirus software.
- If you want to limit the amount of spam you deal with on a daily basis, use one email for all personal communications with friends, family members and associates, and a separate email for signing up for newsletters, freebies and online accounts. This will greatly minimize spam on your main email account. Make sure to check your secondary account regularly for important messages, but treat the messages found in that email account with extra caution.
- Look into the policies of the companies you have business with so you know the types of information they will and will not ask you for through email. Most do not ask you for either personal information or account information in emails. Once you know this is the case with the banks, credit cards and major retailers you deal with you will have an easier time recognizing instances of email fraud. If you receive an email that requests this type of information, go to the website of the company by typing their address into their browser and look at the information on fraudulent emails. Many request that you notify them if you receive such an email so they can warn clients or try to stop the perpetrators. Forwarding them the email will also generate a response telling you whether the email is legitimate or not.