Email Phishing and Scams

Email Scams

Scams are generally delivered in the form of a spam email (but remember, not all spam emails contain scams). Scams are designed to trick you into disclosing information that will lead to defrauding you or stealing your identity.

Examples of email scams include:

  • emails offering financial, physical or emotional benefits, which are in reality linked to a wide variety of frauds.
  • These include emails posing as being from ‘trusted’ sources such as your bank, Government websites, Email provider, social media accounts, or anywhere else that you have an online account. They ask you to click on a link and then disclose personal information.

Phishing Emails

Phishing is a scam where criminals typically send emails to thousands of people. These emails pretend to come from banks, credit card companies, online shops and auction sites as well as other trusted organizations. They usually try to trick you into going to the site, for example to update your password to avoid your account being suspended. The embedded link in the email itself goes to a website that looks exactly like the real thing but is actually a fake designed to trick victims into entering personal information.

  • The email itself can also look as if it comes from a genuine source. Fake emails sometimes display some of the following characteristics, but as fraudsters become smarter and use new technology, the emails may have none of these characteristics. They may even contain your name and address.
  • The sender’s email address may be different from the trusted organization’s website address.
  • The email may be sent from a completely different address or a free webmail address.
  • The email may not use your proper name, but a non-specific greeting such as “Dear customer.”
  • A sense of urgency; for example the threat that unless you act immediately your account may be closed.
  • A prominent website link. These can be forged or seem very similar to the proper address (see below), but even a single character’s difference means a different website.
  • A request for personal information such as username, password or bank details.
  • You weren't expecting to get an email from the organization that appears to have sent it.
  • The entire text of the email may be contained within an image rather than the usual text format. The image contains an embedded link to a bogus site

Use Email Safely

  • Do not open emails which you suspect as being scams.
  • Do not forward emails which you suspect as being scams.
  • Do not open attachments from unknown sources.
  • If in doubt, contact the person or organization the email claims to have been sent by ... better safe than sorry.
  • Do not readily click on links in emails from unknown sources. Instead, roll your mouse pointer over the link to reveal its true destination, displayed in the bottom left corner of your screen. Beware if this is different from what is displayed in the text of the link from the email.
  • Do not respond to emails from unknown sources.
  • Do not make purchases or charity donations in response to spamemail.
  • Don’t click on ‘remove’ or reply to unwanted email.
  • When sending emails to multiple recipients, list their addresses in the 'BCC' (blind copy) box instead of in the 'To' box. In this way, no recipient will see the names of the others, and if their addresses fall into the wrong hands there will be less chance of you or anybody else receiving phishing or spam emails.
  • Similarly, delete all addresses of previous parties in the email string, before forwarding or replying.

Useful Links

Fighting Phishing Email Scams: What You Should Know

Top 10 Types Of Phishing Emails

Check if you have an account that has been compromised in a data breach

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