The legendary Nigerian Prince email scheme – in which a member of the royal Nigerian family offers recipients huge payouts in exchange for help transferring riches out of the country – has since become the butt of many jokes. We all like to think that we’d never fall for such ridiculous – and obvious – deceptions. But, the fact of the matter is – it happens every day.
And phishing – low-tech email scams that take advantage of human psychology to obtain personal information in any way, shape, or form – have gotten so much more duplicitous in recent years.
These scams fly under the radar to steal sensitive information including credit and bank account numbers, and so much more. Using fake emails masquerading as the bank or a similar institution, consumers are conned into contacting savvy swindlers and forking over the most sensitive information.
Phishing scams often arrive in the form of an email from one of the following organizations:
- Credit card companies
- Social networking sites
- Online payment website/app
- Online stores
But they can also assume different guises. Here are just three examples from a sea of thieves just waiting for distracted consumers to take the bait.
1) The Threatening PayPal Email
PayPal is emailing to tell you that your account is going to be deactivated unless you do something about it immediately!
Why wouldn’t you click on the handy link they’ve provided to access your account and make things right again?
Don’t fall for this despicable deception – a PayPal lookalike designed to get your account information and passwords.
When receiving emails like these, it’s paramount to always check the sender’s address. Hover over all hyperlinks to preview the destination before ever clicking on the link itself.
Telltale signs include anything that make the account seem semi-questionable. If the address isn’t capped by “@paypal.com,” it is almost certain to be an imposter. Other giveaways are that the salutation in the body of the email is generalized (“Hello, sir” or similar), and does not reference you personally; the linked URL does not lead to the PayPal site; and the wording is suspiciously threatening.
PayPal’s a lot of things – but it isn’t a loan shark that’s going to send an enforcer to your home.
2) Greeting Card Scams
Hackers love the holidays. As an increasingly digital society, we’ve become accustomed to receiving well-wishes in our email inbox, instead of through the mail slot.
But be careful. That corporate Valentine or workplace wassail could harbor a malicious link just waiting to be clicked by an unsuspecting holiday reveler.
These “greeting card scams” are designed to inject Malware into your computer system, flooding it with pop-up ads and the like, and could even enlist it into a network of infected computers, causing it to dole out financial data to a server set up by IT criminals.
“Happy Holidays,” indeed.
3) Decidedly Not the IRS
It’s that time of year again. Businesses and individuals, alike, are balancing the books and preparing to file their taxes in advance of April 15. And cybercriminals are ready and willing to take advantage of a potentially high-stress situation. An email arrives claiming you are eligible for a refund or – conversely – are soon to be the subject of an IRS audit. These emails scams close with the request to submit a refund request or to fill out a tax form.
Don’t do it.
The IRS will never send unsolicited emails and never-ever emails taxpayers regarding the status of their refunds.
It feels oversimplified to say, “never click on a link in an unsolicited email,” and leave it at that. Faced with the hustle and bustle of the day, we’ve all been guilty of a half-glance at an email or digital correspondence, and an impromptu click of the mouse.
Scammers are continuously coming up with new ways to outsmart phishing and spam filters. In recent years, headlines have been dominated by news of organizations targeted by hackers implementing devious “phishing” emails, not unlike those mentioned above.
By falling prey to these email scams and clicking on fraudulent links, these companies exposed their login information and threatened everyone in their contact list.
So, keep in mind: it only takes a small amount of personal information to give perpetrators a foot in the door.
Extra precautions are essential. Be careful. Look before you leap. And if something seems too good to be true – as the old adage says, “it probably is.”
At Edwards Answering Service, all of our email correspondences with clients are sent from one, dedicated email address – so you will always know it’s us. Additionally, our team is committed to providing the utmost security, and we work closely with our IT company and vendors, as well as HIPAA compliance advisors, to regularly review and assess our IT security, backup email service, and Internet service.
Find out more about our dedication to our clients. No scams here, just stellar customer service. Call 800-606-3273 to learn more.