Phishing Scams: Don’t Fall for Scammers’ Tricks

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Don’t click email links – go directly to the source when possible. Image by VLN

With Christmas just around the corner, many scammers will attempt to entice you into deals to steal your money.

While some sell items online, others will simply send you email with deals or notifications of bank or PayPal problems and ask you to click links that lead to their website or use their software.

These are known as phishing emails. There are some ways that you can protect yourself, and know whether you have been sent a legitimate deal or warning.

The IRS Will Never Email When Tax is Due!

Many people are getting emails from the IRS to state they are due a tax reimbursement and in the run up to Christmas this may seem like it’s too good to be true. It is. The IRS does not issue tax reimbursement notifications via email!

If you are due tax back, you will receive a letter, and the majority of the time a check or direct bank transfer as the information should already be on file.

Never send any details asked for in attachments to the email and do not click on the links. When you do receive these emails, contact the IRS immediately with the email address so that the staff are aware.

Your Bank Will Not Ask for Security Details

Banks will never ask for full security details, either via email or phone. The majority of the time, they will ask for a set number of digits from your password and these digits will be at random. Never give your details out via emails, even if it does look legitimate, and avoid clicking on any links. If you receive a notification from your bank, go directly to their website and log into your account. From there, you will be able to update your information. If you are in doubt, contact the bank and talk to a member of staff to find out about the contents of the email.

Check the Sender’s Email Address

When you get deals in your email from companies, the email address should match the company name. This is the easiest way to quickly spot a phishing email, as scammers will not be able to use the company after the @ sign. However, look closely as some may have something close to the company name.

Keep your eyes open to catch common phishing tricks. Image by Halseike

Check the URL of the Links

Think you have found a great deal that looks legitimate? Check the URL. If you are going to a store’s deal, you should see the store’s name at the start of the URL, for example Amazon.com or Apple.com. Never rely on the look of the website as scammers will be able to create something that looks very similar to genuine company sites.

It is possible to check the links before clicking them in many email programs. Hover your cursor over the links and wait for the URL to show. If something does not look quite right, report it to the company that the scammer is pretending to be, and don’t click anything in the email. If the information is genuine, the company will email you back to inform you.

Phishers: Ruining the Holidays, One Email at a Time

There are many scammers about and they will try everything possible to get their hands on your money. Be vigilant when looking at emails, especially those from the IRS, your bank, and deals from companies. If in doubt, go directly to the company to find out more, and ignore the links in the emails when possible.

Resources:

IRS. Report Phishing. (2012). Accessed December 1, 2012

Visa. Personal Card Options. Secure With Visa. (2012). Accessed December 1, 2012

FBI. New E-Scams & Warnings. (2012). Accessed December 1, 2012

Fraud Watch International. Report Fraud. (2012). Accessed December 1, 2012

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