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What are email scams and how to stay safe

By 30th January 2018April 4th, 2019No Comments

Tony Edwards
Tony Edwards

Cost Area Lead for ICT

In my last blog post I talked about the common types of email scam and how to recognise them. This post gives you a basic understanding of how you can stay safe if you spot one of these emails.

1. Don’t open them

This is easier said than done, as you are not necessarily going to know the email is suspicious until you look at the content. The good thing is that most mail clients have a reading pane option so that you can read the email without actually opening it. Read my blog about recognising email scams for a checklist.

2. Don’t forward them

Forwarding emails that could be suspicious is a dangerous game as you could be passing on viruses, malware or something equally as bad to not only the recipient but your entire address book. If you need to send a copy of the mail, take a screenshot and send that instead.

3. Unknown sources

forward mailEmails from unknown sources should be handled with extreme caution, even more so if they contain attachments. Those attached files could contain executable files which could do anything from infect your machine with a virus to recording your keystrokes and mouse clicks and more. If in doubt, don’t open it.

4. Links in emails

Web links within emails can be easily forged so don’t click on links within emails from anyone you don’t know. I recommend hovering over the web link before clicking to reveal its true destination, that way you can check the web link for obvious errors etc.

5. Spam Filtering

spamboxEnsure that you have a spam filter set up on your account and if you are not sure contact the email provider or your IT department to check. A spam filter is a program that is used to detect unsolicited or unwanted email and prevent these messages from reaching your inbox. This is achieved by the filter scanning emails as they come in and cross check the content based on specific criteria.

6. If in doubt, ask

Finally, if you are unsure if the email is legitimate or not, contact the person or the organisation that the email claims to be from.

To conclude, email is a fantastic communication tool, but has to be used with care and attention. The smallest mistake or error in judgement, such as clicking on an unknown link can have serious consequences. Be careful and if you are not sure – DON’T CLICK!

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