Email and the Internet is a wonderful resource that has revolutionized the way humans communicate and access information. Unfortunately, it has also proved to be a fertile medium for the unscrupulous and the morally challenged. Scammers regularly use email in attempts to steal money or personal information from unsuspecting victims. Those inexperienced in the ways of the Internet are especially vulnerable to current Internet scams.
The good news is that it is not difficult to learn how to recognise current Internet scams that arrive via email. Included below are descriptions of three of the most common types of email driven scams as well as some general indicators that should help you recognize scam emails.
You may receive an email from a bank/online service provider/ financial institution that asks you to click a link and visit a website in order to provide personal information. Such an email is more than likely the type of Internet scam known as "phishing".
A phishing scam is one in which victims are tricked into providing personal information such as account numbers and passwords to what they believe to be a legitimate company or organization. In order to carry out this trick, the scammers often create a "look-a-like" website that is designed to resemble the target company's official website. Typically, emails are used as "bait" in order to get the potential victim to visit the bogus website. Be wary of any email that asks you to click on a link and provide sensitive personal information such as banking details. Information submitted on these bogus websites is harvested by the scammers and may then be used to steal funds from the user's accounts and/or steal the victim's identity.
Most legitimate companies would not request sensitive information from customers via email. DO NOT click on the links in these emails. DO NOT provide any information about yourself. If you have any doubts at all about the veracity of an email, contact the company directly.