Have you ever received an email from a Nigerian prince who wants to share his fortune with you for some reason? Or one that informs you that you have won the lottery in a country in which you have never even been? You would be shocked if you knew how many people responded to these emails and lost their lifelong savings overnight. Today, fraud reaches beyond door-to-door salesmen and secondhand car dealers, and not all scams are as ridiculously obvious as the ones mentioned above. However, there are some steps you can take to avoid getting scammed via email.
The first step you should take in order to avoid fraud is to filter your email, which is basically the process of separating out certain emails according to your criteria. Filters allow you to manage the flow of your incoming messages, thus clearing out spam.
Create a Second Address
If you are subscribing to forums or newsletters, you should consider using a separate email address for those. Keep one email account for your personal use and the other for signing up for things. Scammers have tools to detect email addresses in Web pages. This way, the alternative address will be the one getting the spam.
Even after you've taken these precautions, it is still possible that you will get spam mail. When this occurs, do not click any link, download any file, or open any attachments that arrive with the message. If you happen to click a link, do not supply any information on the website that may open. Remember that these links may be confusing, as some resemble legitimate pages, but even a single character's difference means a different website.
Don't Share Info
It is highly unlikely for your bank to email you for your personal information. When you receive an email claiming to need your info that looks like it's from a company or bank you're associated with, do not reply. Do not share any type of personal or financial info over email, even if you know the recipient. There is no guarantee that scammers won't hack into your email or that of the person you are sharing the information with.
Protect Your Computer
Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and make sure you keep it up-to-date. Scammers use programs that get into your computer and gather your personal information by recording every keystroke. In a time when people can sometimes guess people's passwords by browsing their social media profiles, an unguarded computer is pretty much equal to an open target.
Don't Buy Into Bogus Opportunities
Number one on the list of FTC's most common email scams are bogus business opportunities, and “work at home,” “easy money,” or “guaranteed loan” pitches are close followers. These types of scams promise big bucks for little to no effort and mostly require an “entrance fee,” for which you can obtain an “information kit” to start. Do not trust these types of offers, and ignore related emails.