Getting fooled by an email warning of some new crime or promising free money can be embarrassing and dangerous. Here are some tips for how to spot these two types of email, and how to respond when you do.
Check the facts - every time. The reason emails warning of silly urban legends spread so quickly is because people receive them from their trusted friends, and never imagine these smart, clever people could be fooled. Before forwarding any email, take a second to search one of the databases listed below.
If you find the email is a hoax and comes from someone you know personally, immediately reply to the original sender to let him or her know. Select 'Reply all' if appropriate, or suggest that the sender send an email to this effect. Remember to include a link to the site debunking the email!
If you receive an email requesting money or personal information in return for great riches, do not respond! Responding to emails like this - or any type of spam - merely confirms your email account as an active one and opens the floodgates for more spam. Forwarding an email like this to an anti-phishing website, like the ones listed below, can help stop or slow its progress.
If you receive an e-mail that appears to be from a company or website you do business with that asks you to input any personal information, such as your username or password, do not respond to it or click on any links. If you are concerned that there may be an actual problem with your account, navigate to the website yourself and log in.
Learn to hone your Spamdar by asking the following questions of every email you receive:
Is the sender's name familiar to me?
Has this person ever sent me spam before?
Is there an offer of free money in exchange for personal information?
Is there a threat of immediate detrimental action if I don't respond with personal information?
Some scammers use graphics and e-mail addresses to make you believe their e-mail is from a legitimate site. Again, always naviagte to the site in question on your own.
Use your browsersanti-phishing facilities (Fireforx and IE both have them). That way, even if you do
follow a link in a phishing email, the browser will warn you if the site is fraudulent.
If the email is from a 'free' email account (hotmail.com, yahoo.com etc) treat it with great suspicion.
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