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How to spot an email or phishing scam…

Developments in technology over the years have made a lot of tasks – both major ones and trivial things – easier to accomplish. The Internet is among these developments whose evolution has made performing a number of tasks more convenient. With a click of your mouse, you can accomplish tasks which you could only do before by being physically present in stores, banks and other establishments.

Along with the convenience the Internet brings though is the risk of falling prey to scams and fraudsters. Since most people do almost everything electronically and online, cybercriminals consider the Internet the prime place to find their victims. One of the popular ways that criminals use to look for their victims is through email phishing scams.

Phishing is the act of acquiring sensitive personal information from you through an email sent by a criminal posing as someone else. The purpose of getting your personal details is to either scam you or steal your identity. Usually, an email phishing scam asks for your Social Security number, credit card and bank details, date of birth, account names and passwords, and other identifying personal information. If you don’t know how to properly protect your privacy online, then there’s a big chance that you’ll get scammed or defrauded.

To avoid becoming a victim and to protect against email scams, you should at least know how to spot an email scam. Here are some telltale signs indicating that what you have in your inbox is a phishing email:

1)     Weblinks – Some of these emails might contain a clickable link that either downloads a file into your computer or leads you to another site that asks for personal and banking details. If the site it leads to asks you to fill out a form with your personal information, this could probably be a phishing scam. Most companies and businesses never ask their customers to provide sensitive information (such as your SS number, credit card details, account pins and passwords) through online forms or emails.

2)     Grammar or spelling mistakes – Legitimate businesses normally have a team of copy editors to ensure that their ads and other communication are error-free. If you receive a letter laden with grammar and spelling mistakes as well as typo errors from a supposedly legitimate company, it’s most probably a scam.

3)     Threats – Emails that prompt you to perform an action related to your account (usually account verification) to prevent it from getting deactivated can possibly be a scam. Typically, cybercriminals would want you to verify your credit card account by providing your username, password and pin so they can use your details to steal your identity and commit fraud.

4)     Attachments – It should be common practice not to download any email attachment if it comes from an unknown individual or company. Many hackers use this method to trick their victims into downloading and installing malware in their computers. The program then sends bits and pieces of sensitive personal information back to the hacker, making you vulnerable to identity theft and fraud.

5)     Request for personal information. As mentioned, legitimate businesses and banks rarely ask for your personal details over email. If you get an email asking for these details, you should think twice about responding to the email with these details – or better yet, don’t respond at all.

6)     Red-flag phrases. Phishing techniques evolve over time as people become familiar with the criminals’ tactics; however, these scammers use several phrases over and over even if their methods have changed. Being familiar with these red-flag phrases helps in email or phishing scam prevention.

7)     Wordless emails. Instead of a URL or a long-winded mail, some scammers send you an image which is actually a link to their phishing website. Clicking anywhere on the image will either take you to their site or automatically download a malicious file.

8)     Signatory. Legitimate businesses that send out emails to their clients would normally be signed by a representative. Along with the representative’s name, his position in the company should be stated, as well as his contact number or email. Email phishing scams would only sign the letter with [Company Name] Customer Support Department.

These are just some of the common things you’ll spot in an email phishing scam. Being able to recognize these will help prevent email scam. Generally, all phishing emails ask for your banking and personal details so that they can steal your identity and create accounts under your name. One of the best ways for email or phishing scam prevention is to refrain from signing up or giving out your email address to shady websites. offshore centre To avoid these scams, you have to protect your privacy online as well.

What other email or phishing scam techniques are you aware of? Share them with us by posting below.

Amy Johnson is an active blogger who is fond of sharing interesting finance related articles to encourage people to manage and protect their finances. She also covers tips on credit monitoring and credit protection that can help people prevent themselves from identity theft & credit fraud.

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