How To Spot Common Spam Scams

by Paul Wilcox

We’ve all received spam trying to sell us things such as prescription medications, cheap mortgages and internet gambling. Most people just hit delete and move on, but there are some scams that are a tiny more serious.

One well-known example, circulating for years now, is the Nigerian bank scam. The sender, allegedly the wife or relative of a former dictator or government official (usually in Nigeria, hence the name) tells the sad story of how millions were deposited in a bank account which is no longer accessible. In exchange for your help, they’re willing to share this wealth – for a few mere thousands from your bank account for ‘expenses’. As ludicrous as it seems, people fall for this every year. In one well-publicized case an elderly Czech man who had lost his life savings to this scam shot the Nigerian consul in Prague.

Some Internet scams offer investment opportunities with large paybacks. They usually claim to be risk-free, but once they’ve your money, you’re very unlikely to see any return. Another common scam involves offering credit cards for those with bad credit ratings – just send a security deposit and processing fees. In return you get – that’s right – nothing. And by the time you begin to investigate, the scam artist has disappeared.

These scams can also effect legitimate businesses you might be dealing with. Because there is so much spam these days, the email services are working hard to filter it out. These filters can sometimes stop legitimate messages, however, and you may not receive something you wanted.

How To Avoid Getting Scammed

Firstly, never ever reply to spam, either by hitting reply or by clicking a link in the email. These things will only serve to confirm your email address is active and you’ll shortly start to receive much more spam than you do already.

And above all else, never give any private information like credit card numbers or bank account information via email. Companies like Paypal or your bank will never ask for your username and password in an email message.

How do you know whether it’s spam? Since, one man’s spam is sometimes another’s welcomed advertisement, there’s no perfect answer. But there’s one good rule of thumb: if you don’t recognize the sender, it’s probably not someone you want to hear from. After all, how many former dictators in Nigeria are you apt to know?

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