Can You Spot Scam E-mails?
Recently I've received a few suspicious e-mails that likely would've infected my computer with a malicious virus or put me at risk of having my identity stolen if I had done what they asked. One came with a FedEx logo and told me to print out an invoice attached to the e-mail so I could collect a package that I had sent that FedEx supposedly was unable to deliver. The most obvious tip-off that the e-mail was fraudulent was that I hadn't sent any packages recently.
There were some other clues, too, that should've raised the eyebrows of even someone who had sent a package by FedEx. The e-mail said "Dear ," -- no name. And there was some random text at the end of the e-mail: "Fed loses bid to review bailout disclosure ruling."
But sometimes scam e-mails are so legitimate looking that even the most-cautious of us can be fooled. If you always follow these do's and don'ts, though, you're much less likely to become a victim of e-mail scams.
Don't download attachments sent to you in unsolicited e-mails. They may contain viruses that will secretly track your account numbers, passwords and other data. Also be wary of attachments sent by friends, who might not be aware that the "you gotta see this" file they're sending around contains malware.
Don't click on any link sent to you in an unsolicited e-mail, no matter how convincing the message. Once you click on the link, you could have a difficult time telling if the site is authentic or a scam. (Not to mention that doing so will also signal the sender that your e-mail address is active, which could spawn more spam.) Instead, verify requests for personal information. If an e-mail looks like it is from your bank, for example, use the Web address you usually use to access your account and confirm the request through the site's "Contact Us" link.
Don't fall for too-good-to-be-true offers. E-mails promoting merchandise with unusually low prices and "free" items with small shipping fees could be credit-card-number traps.
Do safeguard your computer by updating your virus protection regularly and using a firewall program.