This time of year, when your inbox is working overtime, it’s important to remember not to use technology as a replacement for your own intuition when returning messages. Here are three scams you might run into this holiday season and the common sense tips for identifying them:
The pre-approved credit card
Received an email notifying you that you’ve been “pre-approved” for a loan or a credit card? Don’t get too excited. Pre-approved cards are often just scammers who charge a one-time processing fee, an amount that can sometimes be hundreds of dollars, and then don’t deliver on the card itself. Sometimes these cards will even have the first payment pre-paid, a trick that legitimate banks never do. Just remember that banks have the approval process for a very good reason, and aren’t likely to give a card to just anybody.
The second type of pre-approved scam is the pre-approved home loan. A scam that also requires an up-front fee, the home loan scam is easy to see past if you use a little judgment. Without a solid credit check and due-diligence, no creditor in their right mind would pre-approve you for a home loan. Just remember –as with most scams— if it sounds too good to be true it most likely is.
The phishing email and phony web page
Phishing attempts are probably the most common and wide-spread scam these days. The core concept of a phishing attempt is to get you to reveal large amounts of information by trickery. They often resemble legitimate credit authorities like Wells Fargo, PayPal or Amazon and will often link to web pages that look legitimate. Most often, phishing attempts rely on your financial anxiety to cloud your judgment and will even try to convince you that your account has been compromised in some way in order to get you to act without thinking. For those interested, the word phishing’s unusual spelling most likely comes from the word “phreaking,” a type of telecommunications hacking that was popular in the seventies and eighties.
So how do you tell a phishing email from the real thing? Check out the destination URL by hovering over the link. If the link address starts with “https://” it’s most likely legitimate. A phishing link will typically omit the “s,” instead beginning with just “http://.” Of course, if you feel uneasy about the message you can always call up the sender from a phone number provided on their main page (not a phone number provided in the email for obvious reasons.)
The employee search scam
What would be a greater holiday present than a brand new job? The employee search scam involves a scammer that combs legitimate employment sites and finds email addresses. This unscrupulous person then sends an email with an attractive job offer for a company you’ve never heard of. While this job offer may sound incredibly intriguing, it’s also incredibly fake.
This type of scam will string you along until you provide a bank account, needed for actual employers to directly deposit money into your account, and then make off with your hard earned cash. An easy way to identify these types of scams is to do a little due-diligence before sending along your info. Look into the company, check out more than just their website. Often times a simple Google search can be all that it takes to find out whether a job offer is fake or not. Just remember, always check out any company that wants your personal information, especially if they’re offering an unbelievable deal.
Sure a good email security service can provide a lot of protection from scammers and phishers this holiday season, but you should never use them to replace good, old common sense. That being said, no company provides the multi-tiered email security that Sendio does. Our many layers of protection can often identify scammers before they ever reach your inbox, leaving you with a cleaner, safer email solution that delivers only the mail you want, and nothing else.