We’ve all seen them. Some of us may have clicked them. And there’s a chance that you know someone who has fallen for them. Scams.
Online scams are more prevalent than ever. Taking advantage of people who are used to clicking links, or aren’t as savvy when it comes to spotting what may be a scam, scammers and fraudsters make off with over 1 billion dollars every year – so how can you protect yourself?
Other than phone calls, online scams are one of the most common. Some online scams are obvious – like a prince emailing you to tell you he wants to give you thousands of dollars. Some are a little trickier to spot – like those that appear to come from Netflix or Hulu.
So how can you tell if an email is legit or not?
- If someone asks you to send a little bit of money to get a lot of money, it is a scam!
- If there are typos or the grammar is poor, chances are it is a scam. Don’t click any links!
- If the email address it is coming from (even if it says customer service) has a tail of something other than the company name. For example, an email from Netflix Customer Support with the email address of <email@example.com> did not come from Netflix.
- Hover your mouse over the links in the email before clicking them – if they appear to take you to a site other than the one you think they should, it’s likely a scam.
- If the email asks you to update your information and provides a link to do so, chances are it is a scam.
- Never respond to phone numbers or links in the emails in question, always look up the contact information elsewhere (i.e. through a Google search).
Here is a real-world example, where a scammer almost got one of our very own employees!
This employee saw a listing for a travel trailer on the Facebook Marketplace. The price was right, the pictures looked legit, and he was excited for the possibility of a new toy!
So he emailed the seller and got some more info. When the employee expressed further interest, the seller said that the sale would run through eBay, and to get started they would need his name, address and phone number. They would need partial payment up front, and then final payment after delivery of the travel trailer. Shortly after he provided his contact information, the employee got an email from eBay with a transaction number. The email looked legit.
However, the employee had the gut feeling that this was a little fishy and sounded a little too good to be true. Upon further review of the email, he noticed that the email actually came from an email address that ended with @us-ebayorder.com. He did a quick search online and found an eBay help email for just this scenario. He sent the email in question to firstname.lastname@example.org and they confirmed that it was, in fact, a scam and that they were not associated with that account or transaction. Luckily he hadn’t provided any sort of payment or payment information to the sellers.
Digital technology is a great tool for many things, but it’s important to keep your information and identity safe from scammers. If something sounds too good to be true, pause, do a little research, and make sure your transaction is legit.