5 Ways to Avoid Email Scams

Technology is constantly changing and evolving. But so are cyber criminals and their techniques. Here are several tips on how you can fend off online scams, like right now!

by Redi Mendoza, 26 June 2017

“Kamusta ka na? Ito ang bagong roaming number ko.” is one of the most common SMS scams. Most of us are familiar with these fake messages and just ignore them but some are not as smart or lucky. SMS scams usually just ask for prepaid credits but email scams are much scarier. They usually trick you into providing sensitive information like passwords and personal information that they can use to hack your accounts. Some have lost thousands, even millions due to email scams. Don’t be vulnerable and take these necessary precautions so you don’t become the next victim.

Never Give Out Personal Information

Most email scams are actually phishing attacks. Phishing is the fraudulent practice of imitating a legitimate company (example: banks, insurance companies) to get you to reveal personal information like credit card details and bank PIN’s. Even if the email leads you to a seemingly legitimate website, it may still be a fake one. Always check the URL. Avoid typing any sensitive information over unsecure sites. Secure sites usually start with an “https” instead of “http” but it’s still best to provide sensitive information over the phone using the company’s hotline.

Be Wary of Spam

This is not the Spam that we love to eat for breakfast. Spam refers to unsolicited messages sent over the internet in large volumes. Most spam messages are annoying but harmless. Email scammers have been using this technique to target massive numbers of people. They know that they will not be able to trick everyone. So, they’re relying on quantity to fool a small percentage of those whom they send the spam to. Don’t be part of that percentage. Never click links, download files, or open attachments from unknown senders.

Don’t Panic

Like the classic “dugo-dugo” modus operandi, a lot of email attacks rely on panic. This is because panic will likely make you do risky and irrational actions. If you read an email that says you’ve been hacked and must change your password immediately, don’t do anything hastily. Check the authenticity of the message. Verify the sender’s email address. One give away that an email is fake is that they are using a similar but different email domain. A domain consists of the characters found after “@” in the email address. For example, scammers might use an email account such as “help@bankcustomerservice.com.ph” instead of the authentic “customerservice@bank.com.ph”. Companies usually use the domain of their official website (www.bank.com.ph) in their email (name@bank.com.ph). However, some scammers maybe using legitimate emails, which they have hacked to do their phishing attacks. So, when you’re in doubt, it’s better to check the legitimacy of the message over the phone.

Protect Your Computer

Sometimes, you don’t have to type sensitive information to make you vulnerable to phishing attacks. Sometimes, malicious software is installed in your computer without you knowing and it does the leaking for you. These are called viruses. So, make sure that you have anti-virus and anti-spyware programs to combat viruses. This will protect your computer from getting infected. Keep them updated since most unscrupulous criminals keep making new ones.

Check Your Online Accounts Regularly

If you do online banking and have other accounts that you can access via the web, visit them regularly. This will help you ensure that there aren’t any unauthorized transactions in your accounts. If you find any, make sure to contact the company to report possible fraudulent transactions. If there are non-legitimate transactions, you can put your accounts on hold to prevent further loss.