Five Tips to Help Reduce E-Mail Scams
First, let me wish each of you a Happy New Year!
Unfortunately, I am starting off 2016 with a negative posting. However, on the positive side, if my message helps to prevent a scammer from making at least one of you a victim, then it’s well worth the effort.
First up: I received the below email less than one-half hour ago. It is allegedly from a person whom I worked with several years ago, and we occasionally make contact once or twice a year. Yes, a long distance friend, and one I would want to help:
I’m writing this with tears in my eyes, my family and i came down here to Marseille on a short trip,unfortunately we were mugged at the park of the hotel where we stayed all cash,credit card and mobile phone were stolen off us but luckily we still have our passports with us.
I made contact with my bank but it would take me 5 working days to access funds in my account,the bad news is our flight will be leaving in less than 8-hrs from now but we’re having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won’t let us leave until we settle the bills.
I’ll need your help financially and i promise to make the refund once we get back home,Please let me know if i can count on you and i need you to keep checking your email because it’s the only way i can reach you.
I anticipate your response
As I mentioned earlier, the individual named as sending this email is someone I would want to help. After checking to ensure no spyware was attached, I clicked reply, and sent the following response to the email sender:
Just in case this is a scam, please answer the below questions:
1. Where did we work together?
2. What was the name of our office manager?
3. What was the nickname of that office manager?
If you are legit, the above are easy to answer. If not, you can go to hell!
(I still haven’t heard back from the sender. I strongly suspect the above email is a fraud.)
Don’t Become a Victim!
Unfortunately, identity theft thieves and scammers are everywhere. You must be on guard at all times. Example: Approximately one month ago, my wife received a phone call from a person using a friend’s name and in need of money since he was stranded in Las Vegas. Here again, she asked the caller a simple, but personal, question that our friend would know the answer. The caller hung up.
The bad news is that we’re all vulnerable to identity theft. The good news is that you can minimize your risk of becoming a victim of identity theft by being alert and on guard.
Today, since the majority (43%) of victims were reached through email, I will offer five tips to help reduce your risk to these types of costly and time-consuming frauds:
1. Select good passwords and PINs. Choose words and numbers that no one would be able to guess even if they were privy to other parts of your personal information. Or, use words and
numbers that are familiar to you, but disguise them in a hard-to-guess code. Don’t use the
same password for all of your accounts. Vary the passwords from account to account.
2. Protect your computer. Don’t fall for phony calls from someone saying they are from sites
such as Microsoft security, telling you they need to check a problem on your computer.
3. Beware of email scams. These official looking documents (logo and all) notify you there is a
problem with your account, or ask you to verify passwords, account numbers or social security
details. When received, they should serve as an immediate red flag. Contact the service provider
and ask, what’s up.
4. Use caution when shopping online. Confirm that the site is legitimate––never go to a site from an
unsolicited email and start using your credit card. Go to the official website, or locate it through a search engine.
5. Never answer unsolicited or unwanted emails.Replying to such an email can open the door to
various spyware programs that are designed to compromise your computer and capture
passwords and other sensitive data.
Well, those are my five tips to minimizing email fraud. Most importantly, only give sensitive personal information to those who have a valid need to know.
As an extra precaution you may consider placing a “security freeze” on your credit report to prevent new credit accounts from being opened in your name. (Your Credit Bureau can brief you on this procedure.) Also, take advantage of that free annual credit report. It can help you ensure that no unauthorized activity is taking place.
Again, have a Great and Successful 2016!