How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams

Phishing Scams

Email scams are becoming more and more common. Not only do we receive them several times a day, but it is difficult to distinguish them from valid emails. Two of the most common email scams are the Nigerian email scam and spoof emails. Here are some tips you can use to weed out these email scams and to protect yourself and your finances.

The Nigerian Email Scam: You may be aware of the Nigerian email scam where you will receive an email asking for your assistance in getting money from a foreign account. However, you may not be aware that they come in many different forms. The person requesting your help maybe a wealthy foreigner, a widow, or an orphan, and may or may not necessarily be from Nigeria. These emails evolve according to current events such as natural disasters and pretend to be victims.

They will use any means to try to convince you that they need your help and you will receive a large sum of money if you help them move their money. The only catch is that they need you to provide fees upfront. To avoid such scams look for words like strictest confidence and top-secret in the opening paragraph. If you see these words, hit the delete button, or better yet, report the email to the proper authorities. The best way to avoid being caught up by such scams is to delete all emails from people you do not know.

Spoof emails: These emails are very dangerous because a criminal is attempting to steal your account information so that they can exploit your online memberships and bank accounts. Such theft can have disastrous effect. The most common accounts targeted are EBay, PayPal, and banking institutions.

These emails come in the form of account update and account suspended notices. It will usually start with the words Dear sir or madam. This is because they do not know your name. A real email from these companies will always address you by your full name. The emails will inform you that your account needs to be updated to prevent suspension, or that your account has been suspended.

The email will then provide a link allowing you to update your account information. Do not open this link. Instead, right-click on it, and then on properties. These wills show you where the link is actually located. Unless that link starts with eBay, PayPal, or your banking institution, it is not real. You can use the link information found to report the fraud to the company being spoofed.

If you think that this email may actually is from the real company, then close the email and type the company URL into your browser, and check your account status. If you still have questions, then contact the company directly by phone or email.

Other tips you can use to help you weed out email scams from the real thing:

Bad grammar
Poor spelling
Nonsense paragraph or story at the bottom of the email
Link URL not belonging to the company
Link URL not starting with company name i.e. (wrong) vs. (correct).

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