How You Can Spot Email Scams

by Paul Wilcox

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

One of the most common is the Nigerian bank scam. Someone sends you an email pretending to have some kind of relationship to a government official who has recently died, most often in Nigeria. They claim to know about money that was deposited in a secret account that is not accessible to them. In exchange for paying the “transfer fees” and accepting the money in your account, you get to keep a large portion of it. Of course, there’s no money and they just want to get your bank account information and the transfer fees you send them.

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 fake offers are particularly bad for legitimate businesses who use email for doing business. Because so much email is spam, the internet service providers and email hosting companies work hard to filter it out. But these filters can sometimes stop legitimate email from businesses you want to hear from.

How To Avoid Getting Scammed

Never reply to spam. Doing so simply indicates to the spammer that your e-mail address is valid, and you’ll receive more spam than before. Some spam contains a message offering to remove your e-mail address from their mailing list. Don’t use even this service – it’s nothing but another method for verifying e-mail addresses.

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.

Spam isn’t an simple things to cease, but if you don’t recognize the person sending you the message, and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Besides, how many dead Nigerian dictators with huge bank accounts can there really be?

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