Common Email Scams and How to Avoid Them

emails scamsAs IT security threats continue to evolve, it’s more important than ever for businesses to take action to safeguard their data. Often, it’s not enough to have the latest anti-virus software or hybrid firewall. When in doubt, protecting your information and hardware comes down on some level to personal scrutiny.

This is especially the case when checking email. While junk mail is typically easy to avoid and delete, malicious third parties have invented plenty of ways to convince you to open their messages. To help you watch for a dangerous message, we’ll go over a few common email scams and how to avoid them.

The request for information
As old as the Internet, requesting your information is a common cybercriminal tactic. The most infamous email scam was the “Nigerian prince” email, in which a third party claimed to be a wealthy prince offering you money. In exchange for bank account information and a security deposit, users would supposedly have access to this great wealth.

Obviously, it was a farce. So, any time you see an email requesting login details or attempting to tell you there’s a “problem” with your account, this is often a cyber criminal’s attempt to access sensitive information.

The bank account scam
This one works like the request for information in that it involves a request for your info. This one is tricky, as the sender creates a convincing looking email with all the official imagery claiming there’s an issue with your bank account. Concerned, you follow the link where you’re asked to log in. This is actually a malicious third party attempting to fool you.

You can avoid this by checking the URL of the link. If it’s a series of unfamiliar numbers and letters, chances are it’s fake. Also, the email might contain small errors in spelling or grammar or random changes in syntax.

The mystery shopper bamboozle
Every now and again you might be contacted for a “position” as a mystery shopper. The email describes how you can make lots of money after you provide your email, address, and phone number. Then you go to a location to “shop” and are paid after the fact.

Unfortunately, this is just a way to harvest your personal info. On top of that, most mystery shopper emails make you pay an upfront charge before you can proceed. In other cases, payment turns out to be fraudulent.

Phishing emails
Some of the most dangerous malicious messages are phishing emails, which attempt to hijack your information. They’ll use any method, including the previous listings. But often they rely on the user to click a link contained in the email.

That link can lead to a malicious site or attempt to upload a dangerous form of malware. From here this malware will attempt to compromise information.

Phishing can be detected by checking the sender’s name. Typically, malicious third parties send from addresses that are not recognizable like xyz@233.oz or something or another. When in doubt, this is an easy way to detect a dangerous email from compromising your info.

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