How to Protect Yourself from Email Fraud
Email fraud happens far more often than many people realize. In fact, it can be one of the easiest crimes a would-be crook can carry out.
While SPAM filters do manage to eliminate the bulk of these scams from making it into your email inbox, some do get by even the most sophisticated technology.
Phishing is the most common and the most dangerous as it is designed to steal your confidential and personal information. These emails disguise themselves as legitimate agencies (banks, utility companies, etc.) then attempt to get information from you such as account numbers, personal information, passwords, PIN numbers, and more. Other strategies include tricking the user into downloading and installing malware or ransomware from an email message.
The prevalence of email fraud and phishing makes it essential to know how to protect yourself against it.
Check the Policy of Agencies Before Responding to Suspicious Emails
Any email requesting personal information should be considered suspicious and opened with caution. Instead of clicking the link in the email, do a quick search of the organization’s email policies to see if what the email is asking you to do is stated in their policy.
Stop, Look, and Call
The National Association of Federal Credit Unions recommends you follow a simple process upon receiving suspicious emails that look official from companies you work with on a regular basis.
- Don’t respond immediately. Especially if the email seems to require urgent attention.
- Read the text of the message several times and ask yourself why the organization would need this information. Especially if it’s information they should already have or that they should not need.
- It takes a few seconds and could save you a world of financial and emotional pain later to call the organization to find out if the email is legitimate.
Report Phishing When It Occurs
Report it to the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant. Visit the FTC’s website where they will walk you through the process of creating your complaint according to the appropriate category. Also, report suspected phishing to the Anti-phishing working group (APWG). They are building a database of scams people can refer to when receiving suspicious emails.
Never Click on Links in Suspicious Emails
Whether the email is urging you to click now to correct serious problems with your bank or to collect your online lottery winnings, following that link could be the beginning of many problems for you and your computer.
Do a little investigation of your own before clicking any links.
Even if there is a problem, it is better to verify before clicking a link that opens your computer up to viruses, keylogging software that collects your information, data, and passwords, etc.
Never Assume You are Immune
You might think you’re a little fish that no one is really interested in scamming. These scams continue because so many little fish bite every day.
It’s a numbers game for them.
It takes a matter of seconds to send out millions of emails. If only one or two complete the desired action, it’s a win for these thieves. Unfortunately, it seems that a lot of “little fish” bite each year, with the FBI estimating the costs to US businesses (not even including ordinary consumers) to be nearly five billion dollars annually.
Use Antivirus, AntiSpyWare, and Antimalware Software
Many browsers offer tools or add-ons to help protect you from visiting malicious websites. It is better to have tools of your own. There are many programs on the market today, some paid, some free, that offer protection against viruses, spyware, malware, and more. Look for robust protection to get the peace of mind you require.
Never Download Attachments from Unfamiliar Sources
Sending and receiving attachments from family and friends is one thing. These are the people you know and trust. They include things like photographs, funny stories, family recipes, and more.
But, when coming from unknown sources, they could contain ransomware, viruses, and malware that could harm your computer and may even damage your financial security, identity, and/or reputation.
Follow the steps above to protect yourself and your computer from email fraud and so much more.
If you have further questions about phishing and protecting yourself from email fraud, we would be happy to answer them here at Insurance Center of North Jersey.