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FVI Tech Corner
How to Spot an E-mail Scam
Preventative measures are essential to maintaining safety while browsing the web. The most common cause of computer viruses and compromised information isn’t hacking or data transmission, it’s lack of knowledge about safety measures. We value your privacy and your information and we’ll do all we can to protect it on our end, but no one can promise 100% protection. We’d like to provide you with some moves to make and tips to take when you’re dealing with one of the most popular causes of phishing and scamming in the world today: e-mail.
For every e-mail, you should watch out for specific indicators and immediately mark them as RED FLAGS. These are as follows:
E-mails are internet abusers’ favorite means of scamming others because they’re so impersonal. You don’t see a face or hear a voice, all you see are pixels on a screen. This is why it is crucial to be knowledgable and steadfast in knowing exactly who is trying to talk to you. In addition to the red flags above, we’re providing you a helpful step-by-step process that will greatly help in protecting your information.
- The word "Verify". If it’s asking you to verify that an e-mail address is real, then make sure you know exactly who sent it. If it’s a surprise to you, it’s probably a malicious e-mail. Never reply to an e-mail with any personal information. Be sure to contact the person/company by phone or in person.
- The word "Password". Sometimes a company will ask you to change your password by sending you an e-mail. It is extremely rare that they will send you an e-mail like this without you requesting it on their website. If the e-mail asks you to visit a link to change your password, take deliberate steps in determining where the e-mail is coming from. If the e-mail asks you to reply with your password, NEVER do so.
- Odd characters like "¿ or ¡".
While this is valid punctuation in certain context, it can be a strong indicator of a spam or phishing e-mail.
- Frequent Spelling/Punctuation Errors. On the same note as mentioned above: Watch out for frequent spelling or grammatical mistakes. If the e-mail is difficult to comprehend, you are most likely being approached by someone who is looking for information or providing fake offers.
- Asking for or demanding personal information. This is a frequently used tactic in malicious e-mails. Often it will not contain any attachments or content other than a simple message where they try to persuade, beg, or intimidate you into providing your personal information. The most important message to take from this is to NEVER provide personal information through e-mail. Passwords, Credit Cards, and ID Numbers are a few of the varying degree of data they can use against you.
- Look before you open. Many times, it’s obvious to see scam e-mails before you even view them. Look for subtle discrepancies in a sender’s return address, specifically replacing certains letters or charactes with similar looking ones. Also look for peculiar or interesting subject titles from unkown senders and approach these with caution.
- Hover before you click. When provided a link, you want to check the destination before you actually click. Hovering your mouse over the provided link will show you the destination in which it will bring you. If it the display link is misleading compared to the true path, you probably shouldn’t click it.
- Scan before you download. Never download a file without scanning it for viruses first. Most virus protection software gives you the option to right click the attachment and select “Scan for viruses”, and for good reason! Even attachments from trusted sources can contain malware or viruses that, while not usually harmful, can quickly becoming difficult to manage.
- Most importantly: Practice safe browsing. Think of your e-mail as an extension of your identity. If you only give the address to people/companies you trust, you will be much more likely to protect your your information, AND much less likely to have spam e-mails fill your inbox.
- Help us help you! If you feel concerned about any e-mails you receive and need help, we’re more than happy to do so. The headers of an e-mail are often the most definitive asset in determining the source and intent of a message. If you need help finding them, the following link will help guide you: