Email scammers are getting craftier by the minute. Until recently, almost all of the email scams bombarding our inboxes were obviously just blatant lies. Some classic examples of prehistoric email scams include the following…
- A Sob story begging you to send money for someone that you have never heard of, who is in dire straits. In actuality, these are more than likely just con artists who know how to tug at heartstrings.
- An email from your friend who went on a trip to a faraway place and got stuck without any money because their wallet was stolen or lost. These scam emails always include a request not to try to get in touch with anyone else that knows the sender because of some phony baloney another. By now, everyone knows not to send money, but rather to call up your friend, and tell him or her that someone has hijacked their email account and is trying to rip off his or her loved ones.
- Your long lost relative whom you have never heard of, and is from a country that you didn’t know existed, has died and left you their whole trillion dollar estate, and you just need to send a small fraction of the value of the inheritance in order to receive it.
The list goes on and on, but everyone has gotten wise to these crude and old-fashioned schemes since the first time they opened up their inbox and wondered if that email might really be true.
I have to give it to them, the con artists have gotten much better since the olden days of email scams. Today there is a new, and much more slippery, trick that the scammers have invented, and it’s called “Phishing.”
A phishing email claims to be from a well-respected company such as PayPal, your bank, or the IRS, and it often includes a realistic looking logo and professional background to boot. A phishing email is much less noticeable than most scam emails because it never asks you to actually send any money.
The claimed goal of a phishing email is either to inform you of something that is urgent about your account, to perform a routine check-up for record keeping purposes, to inform you that someone was trying to sign into your account, or something of the like. The phishing email will then request, in a professional and dry manner, that you either sign into your account or provide certain details about yourself “for verification purposes.” Of course, within the text of the phishing email a link to another website is provided, seemingly for your convenience. Clicking on the link will send you strait to a sight that looks very similar, or identical, to the site that it claims to be. If you sign into that site with your sign-in information, or provide any other sensitive financial information, you will have, in effect, given the con artist access to your account.
If you do receive a phishing email the next step is to immediately report it to the FBI, the Federal Trade Commission, or your states attorney generals office.