Beware of what lurks in your inbox or in your internet search results! If you aren’t careful, you will fall victim to a web scam.
Our IT folks are always on the lookout for these types of emails and once they have received one will alert us. I’m sure by now you know not to respond to the emails from your bank, credit card company, PayPal, etc., telling you that there is a problem and you need to verify your account. But, these spammers and swindlers are always coming up with new ways to catch you unawares. Recently, I have begun to receive what look to be legitimate emails from family and friends. A closer look at the email address of the sender shows an unfamiliar name and address.
Here are some tips I gleaned from this morning’s NY Times Personal Tech page.
Always look before you click. Look at the letters that follow the period at the end of a web address or email address. Similarly, hover your mouse over the an address or name in an email or click on the name in the “from” line. I had an email from someone I knew, and when I clicked the name, it was something completely different.
Legitimate site or not? Don’t assume top results in a web search are the most useful or the safest. Spammers have figured out how to look legitimate. If a search engine warns you that a site is potentially unsafe, browse at your own risk. If a site is offering something that is too good to be true, it may be! Look for flagrant spelling and grammatical errors on a website. Before making a purchase on a lesser-known site, check to see if it lists a physical address. If it does, map it. Look at the email address. If the only contact option is a Gmail or Yahoo account, it may not be legit. Does the site seem to oversell its legitimacy with multiple BBB-type logos? You can cross-check awards by going to the BBB or awarding site. Also, if a site has too many broken links, it may be that way intentionally.
Types of searches that attract spam. Credit reports-there are only three major national credit reporting agencies. Travel and insurance-seek info from trusted sites. Music, videos, screen savers, pages with downloadable content could harbor malware.
Recommendations. Google is targeted more than any other search engine. Chrome users can install an extension that lets users identify potential spam sites and block them from search results. Change Google ad settings and opt out of the company’s advertising cookies.
Use specialized search engines, such as Google Books, Science.gov, Scirus, iSEEK Education.