Friday, December 28, 2012

What to Look for to Protect Yourself from Phishing Emails

phishingAt any point in your Internet usage life-time, you can be bombarded by emails that are either "phishing" for personal information or trying to get you to install something you don't want or need.

Although a large portion of these emails can seem legitimate, there are a few things you can look at in order to tell if they are fake or not.

  1. Sender - If an email looks legitimate with logos, branding, and business-type language take a look at where the email came from. Companies such as Facebook, PayPal, and others do not use Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail in order to send important account information. Make sure that the company name is spelled correctly in the email address as well. Some scams using PayPal have had the email extension "" - notice the 's'.

  2. Undisclosed Recipients - If you are getting an email that speaks to you as an individual but says it was sent to "undisclosed recipients" in the "To:" heading, this means that someone or a bot sent that email to many people using blind-carbon-copy. This means that emails stating that you won $1.5 million in a UK lottery that was sent to "undisclosed recipients" was probably sent to 1.5 million email addresses.

  3. Addressed by Name - Professional emails coming from Facebook, PayPal, UPS, and a slew of others willalways address you by the name on the account. It will never say Dear User, Friend, Customer, or the like. If the company's system was hacked and personal names to the accounts were released, it could still be fake. However, this instance is extremely rare.

  4. Locality - Beware of emails that were sent from email addresses based in other countries. Extensions such as .hk, .uk, .pi, and vast amounts of others are favored by scam artists and hackers. If you live in Florida and receive an email from UPS, it will not be from Hong Kong.

  5. Personal Info - A favored tactic of scam artists is the use of PayPal and Facebook professional looking emails that request your account information, login, and passwords so they can "verify" or "activate" your account. A legitimate business will never request your account or personal information through an email. First of all, they already have your personal info if it is legitimate. Secondly, email can be intercepted and your account info can be stolen.

  6. Unsolicited - If you didn't enter a lottery or contest, you didn't win the prizes spoken of in that email from the UK. If you're not expecting an ATM card worth $1 million, than it's not really there. If an email comes to you stating how the sender was able to find you to give you something but they need your information, question it. If they found your correct email address, they should have your name in the first place.

Never give your personal information, usernames, or passwords to anyone in an email. This could give the criminal element access to your personal accounts and information in order to steal your identity. If an email looks too good to be true, then it usually is 99.9% of the time. That poor Nigerian prince will have to find someone else to move that multimillion dollar account of his.

This guest post is compliments of Ken Myers, the founder of Longhorn Leads. Over the years, Ken has learned the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn't try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.

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