Phishing Emails: Your Survival Checklist To Keep From Getting Burned
Everyone who uses the Internet has probably had an experience with scam emails. By now, it may even seem like these things are easy to spot and no one could ever possibly fall for them. However, they wouldn’t still exist if they weren’t effective, and if you have any older family members, who aren’t that familiar with the online world, then it would be a good idea to help them recognize the warning signs of a harmful scam, virus, or malware.
Allstate recommends sitting down with older relatives and having “The Talk” about phishing, offering up these vital tips to helping them avoid costly online mistakes with their inboxes.
When I’m watching Shark Tank every weekend, I get annoyed whenever Mark Cuban or one of the other investors will place “exploding offers” on the entrepreneurs seeking investment. I always comment to my wife, “I wouldn’t take the deal just on principle. I hate being pressured.”
By now, she is undoubtedly sick of hearing me repeat myself, but I do so for a reason. Urgency implies shadiness, and nowhere is this truer than in the world of email. If your loved one is having difficulty spotting a scam email — and it’s possible as some are very legitimate looking — make sure they know to spot these unscrupulous pressure tactics right off.
Scammers often pressure victims to respond quickly, FBI.gov states, “before they have time to think.”
“Urgent requests for information could come in the form of an email, Facebook message or even a phone call,” notes the agency. “Any threat that your bank, email, credit card, or other accounts could be closed if you don’t respond is likely a scam.”
Scour The Email.
In my line of work, I use Paypal every day to receive and transfer funds. Even though I’m well-versed on what to look for whenever the company sends me an email, I never click a link because I’m downright paranoid of phishing emails, which have gotten quite good at disguising themselves as legitimate company emails. If you’re not well-versed in the ways of online criminals, it’s very easy to assume an email is on the up-and-up and click “Log In” from within the message itself. After doing so, you could be giving a phishing scam your username and password, rather than the actual company.
Don’t do it.
“Phishing emails often mimic a trusted source like a bank, credit card, favorite retailer, or even your email provider,” Allstate explains. “In March, an email that seemed to come from Google circulated to Gmail users with the subject line ‘Documents.’ Those who clicked on the link inside the email were directed to a web page that looked almost identical to the Gmail log-in page, stealing usernames and passwords of anyone who logged in. Always scrutinize the sender’s email address. These emails also could be loaded with cryptic web links.”
Furthermore, if the email is telling you that something is wrong with your account, open a new tab and type in the actual address for the company. Then, log in from there. Never, never, never do it from within the body of the email.
Clamp Down On Personal Info.
Whether we’re talking about email, text messaging, phone calls, and social media platforms, you should never give out personal information. According to OnGuardOnline.gov, “banks and other financial institutions will never ask for sensitive information via email.” Never. If you grew up using the Internet, or you were at that age of embracing technology when it came into its own, then you probably know this. Your elderly relatives may not. Make sure they do.
Beware Bad Grammar.
Microsoft notes that spelling and bad grammar are telltale signs of “phishy communication.” A large company or organization will seldom allow a mass email to go through with a large number of errors that are often seen from foreign scamming sources where English is not the first language of the sender.
What Should You Do If You’ve Been Scammed (Or Know Someone Who Has Been)?
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), you should forward any and all suspicious correspondence to email@example.com and to the company, bank, or organization that the communication appeared to come from. If it’s a suspicious Facebook post appearing to come from their account, delete it immediately and change passwords.
How Is This An Insurance Issue?
That’s the problem. Often, it isn’t because most individuals do not have insurance coverages that guard against online theft or fraud. Unless you are willing to purchase a rider on your existing insurance coverages, you could be vulnerable. That’s why it is important to adhere to the above guidelines for spotting and reacting to phishy emails.
The Internet has made many wonderful things possible in the modern world, but it’s also opened up a world of opportunity for shady characters or cells of organized crime. People who seldom use the Internet, or are new to it, are the most vulnerable, and individuals generally don’t include cyber insurance in their palette of coverages. Whether you purchase additional coverage or not, it’s best to follow the practices listed above, and spread the word!