Beware of Email Scams
Every day I get at least 1 person trying to either rob me, steal my identity, or put a virus on my computer. Most of these scammers are idiots just trying to make an easy buck. But they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Some make a nice living at our expense.
Here are some of the latest email scams you should be aware of:
UPS or FedEx – If you get an email from UPS or FedEx saying that a package could not be delivered, and the email contains a link or attachment to view the details, do NOT click on it. This is just a scam where they want you to download a virus or malware onto your computer. Never click on a link in an email unless you know the sender personally. You may download a virus or malware that can crash, or worse, take over your computer and read everything on it. You may not even know that it is happening.
PayPal or Ebay – A lot of us use PayPal or Ebay. Chances are pretty good if you get an email from them with a link asking for you to log in, create a new password, or view the attached invoice – this is most likely a scam. If you aren’t sure, open a browser and go directly to the official site, log in and check it there, NOT from their link. They can easily make the link look like’s it’s actually coming from who they’re pretending to be (Phishing).
Better Business Bureau – This scam intends to catch us off guard because if we receive an email saying someone complained about our business, it’s a knee jerk reaction to immediately find out who, and download the attached complaint (which is actually a virus). Luckily, in further investigation, I found some great resources online that listed this as a scam containing a virus. Here’s an exerpt from the scam email: Owner/Manager – The Better Business Bureau has received the above-referenced complaint from one of your customers regarding their dealings with you. We encourage you to print this complaint, answer the questions and respond to us. (self-extracting archive, Adobe PDF). Please review this matter and advise us of your position… If you are unable to respond using the internet, then please respond in writing to the address above or by Fax at (801) 892-6002.
Financial Institutions – The bank and credit card emails scare me a little because they do sound legit. These emails look like they are coming from your bank, credit card or mortgage company and they say things like ‘Your Password is no longer valid. Because of several failed attempts, you can no longer log on. To regain access, you must create a new Password. For security reasons, we need to verify your identity and account information.’ And then they give you a link where they can gather all the information they need to have access to your account. Or they may offer money as a thank you to take a short survey. After the legitimate looking survey they ask you to verify your account details so they can deposit the money right into your account.
Email & Phone Scams – The latest scam is an email urging you to call them instead of directing you to their fake website (Vhishing). They’ll ask you to call a certain number to verify account details (or straighten out the problem). When you call the number you’ll be prompted by an automated message to type in your 16-digit card number. Instead, if you want to verify anything, you should call your credit card company using the phone number from your latest invoice.
IRS Scams – These have become very popular, especially around tax due dates. These emails could contain information about a possible refund, a tax payment that didn’t go through, an audit, or changes to tax law that you need to know. The scammers intentions are to either get you to log in so they can capture all your personal information (including your social security number), or to download a file that contains malware that can take over your computer. There are also scams where they physically phone you and impersonate an IRS officer. But keep in mind, most likely the IRS wouldn’t email or call you, they would mail a letter.
Virus Warning – I received an email scam the other day that was actually quite creative. It was an email from my supposed email provider that said a virus had been caught and contained in my email, but I had to log in and upgrade to a more secure version in order to continue to use my email. They threatened to shut my email down if I didn’t comply in a certain amount of time.
If you get an email that sounds like a scam but your not sure, you can always Google it (Google the subject line or even the senders email address with the word scam). Chances are pretty good that 1,000’s of other people have gotten it also and have already reported it as a scam.
Beware of emails starting with ‘Dear’ or ‘Beloved’ or emails filled with misspellings. These scammers should really learn our language before they try to rip us off. Is some bank in Russia really going to give us some deceased millionaires money because they didn’t have any heirs? How dumb do they think we are??!!
There’s many new scams popping up every day. Here’s what you can do to protect yourself.
- Make sure you’re up to date on the latest anti-virus software.
- Never give anyone your credit card number, the three-digit security code on the back of the card, or personal information unless you initiate the call. (Calling in response to an email doesn’t count as initiating the call.)
- Never click on links or attachments in emails unless you know the sender personally and you are sure it’s legit.
- Use common sense – Is it too good to be true? If you’re not sure – Google it.
For more information, visit www.scamwarners.com. It’s a forum website that is a great resource. It is packed full of information including many different kinds of scams including business targeted scams. It has helpful information on what to do if you suspect a scam, support for victims, and even samples of what scammers use for tools (photos and fake id’s).
Other great resources:
- Report the Scam to Help Fight Fraud. Your report is shared with 3,000 law enforces who investigate and bring cases against scammers. You won’t get your money back, but you can help stop others from getting scammed.
- Elder Impact Fraud Prevention Checklist
- 9 Steps to Protect Against Credit Card Fraud
- How to Protect Your Credit Cards and Finances Online
- 30 Common Credit Scams: A Guide for Financially Vulnerable Adults
- Mobile Phone Scams
- Phone Scams to Watch Out For
- Scam Protection Resource Guide