Among the most common types of scams that people can fall victim to is through email. Whether it be someone with an individual email account that they hardly ever check all the way up to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, everybody is vulnerable to scam attempts via email. In fact, more than 80 percent of companies and millions of individuals are subject to a phishing attack each year.
Estimates say that about one percent of all emails sent are from scammers looking to collect your contact information, banking numbers, social security number, and more. It’s scary to think that you are prone to about one attack per day, especially when you consider that only three percent of people are able to identify a phishing attempt each time that one pops up. Around one-third of these scam emails are opened, with many of these installing malware into your computer.
So how do you avoid email scam attempts and verify that those messages that are in your inbox instead of your junk bin are valid? We have some tips on how to make sure you’re using your computer and email services with optimal safety in mind.
Open the Email, Not the Attachments
There are some misconceptions about email scams. One of the more popular ones is that opening the email itself will unleash malware on your computer. This isn’t true, however, as reading the text from the email won’t do anything nefarious. It’s not until the attachments in a scam email are opened that you have to worry.
There is one drawback to opening the email, though. The message can send out a read receipt to the sender, making you prone to receiving more of these scam email attempts. If you know what to look out for, it can be annoying, but won’t harm your computer.
Always Look at the Sender’s Address
Emails can look extremely legitimate, but there will be one thing that’s off, and it’s the domain address from the sender. A lot of times, people will skip over the address as it will say it’s just from a sender like “Amazon Customer Service” or “Paypal Support” in your inbox. It’s not until you open the email that you’ll see that it’s not from an address that ends in @amazon.com or @paypal.com. The most obvious fake email addresses are the ones that use a random scramble of letters and numbers.
Do Not Click Any Links
If an email looks even the slightest bit suspicious, it’s important to not click any of the links in that message until you know where they go. For example, if you get an email from Paypal that you believe to be a scam, hover your mouse over the links. A small window will pop up with the URL address. If it doesn’t lead directly to paypal.com, then it’s guaranteed to be a scam URL.
Large companies pay copywriters a lot of money to make sure that every email that gets sent out has perfect grammar and punctuation, and these mass emails go through multiple editors to double and triple check. Because of this, it’s almost guaranteed that there won’t be a single grammatical error in an official email.
Quite often, spam emails will come from out of the country, and English may not be the first language of the scammer. Always look for poor grammar and spelling, which is often very obvious.
Install the Right Software
Thankfully, new software is frequently developed to combat scammers. Make sure that your antivirus and antimalware programs are up to date, and install a personal firewall if you have to. Another added layer of security is to use separate emails, with one sparingly for only important items like banking while other accounts for personal use.